Gift Joseph Okpakorese
News sources recently gathered that Governor Godwin Obaseki has in his own opinion, reacted to the current clamor and agitations by members of the NBA, Edo state branch, regarding their quest for financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The State Governor, made his views on the current situation felt while addressing members of the executives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Edo State division, who paid a courtesy visit to the residence of the state’s governor in Benin City.
During the visit of the lawmakers, governor Obaseki reiterated his support for their campaign and said that his administration will not hesitate to go along with the proposal to honor the request of the judiciary as well as act with utmost urgency, the applicable section of the 1999 constitution regarding the sovereignty of the judiciary.
The number one citizen of Edo State explained the significance of this move by the legislature, stating that the independence and liberation of the three arms of Government, is a welcome development, and arguably one of the safest options in favor of Nigeria’s democratic system in the sense that, no one single individual, group or authority could dictate vital policies and regulations that bother on sensitive and critical decisions in the way of life and activities of the general public. He also reassured the lawmakers that his administration has and will continue to obey and respect the applicable section of the 1999 constitution on judicial autonomy.
In his words;
“The issue of judicial autonomy and independence should not be in question or doubt, as the functionality of the three arms of government independently is best for Nigeria’s democratic system.
“I have listened to your presentation and wondered what the real issues are. But I think it is one of communication. It is not in the best interest of our democratic system for the three arms of government not to be independent and autonomous as one has to check over the other. The issues of autonomy and independence should not be in question or doubt.”
According to him, “Section 121 (3) of the 1999 constitution states clearly that any amount and outstanding to the credit of the Judiciary in the consolidated revenue fund shall be paid directly to the head of the courts concerned; it is clear. In Edo State, that is what we do for the legislature, judiciary, and the local governments.”
“We have no issues with judicial autonomy but we need to state, understand and interpret the provision of the constitution and begin to adapt to them,” he added.
Nevertheless, it is significant to observe that there exists a collaborative effort between the state government and the judiciary as Obaseki expressed in his statement where he claimed that, his administration and the Edo State chapter of the NBA can almost be described as working collaboratively as partners in pushing the judiciary forward.
“Our administration is full of members of the NBA. The government and the NBA can be described as one in Edo State.”
Meanwhile, remarking on the current situation, Barr Pius Oiwoh, Chairman of the Edo State Chapter of the NBA, said:
“We are here to present the issue of judicial autonomy. We have been canvassing and agitating overtime for financial autonomy for the judiciary across the country. We are here to present a letter as directed by the National Secretariat of the NBA.
“It is going to be a continuous engagement so that the provision of section 121 subsection 3 of the constitution, which makes provision for financial autonomy of the judiciary, will be guaranteed and complied with. We have heard from his Excellency and are satisfied.”