Court Okays Substituted Service on States in Suit Seeking Financial Autonomy for Judiciary

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A federal high court in Abuja has ordered substituted service on the 36 state governors in a suit seeking financial autonomy for the judiciary.

Binta Nyako, the presiding judge, gave the order on Friday following an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/502/2021 and filed by Emeka Okoye.

Okoye, through his lawyer, Oba Maduabuchi, sued the 36 states through their attorneys-general.

Other defendants in the originating summons dated June 18 are the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), and the attorney-general of the federation (AGF)

Moving the ex-parte motion, Maduabuchi prayed the court for an order of substituted service on the defendants.

He asked the court to approve his request for Red Star Express, a national courier company, to act as special bailiff and serve the originating summons and other associated procedures on the defendants and for the court to deem it as good and proper service.

Nyako granted the application and adjourned the matter until December 7 for hearing.

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In the substantive suit, the plaintiff is seeking an order of the court, “directing the Federation Account Allocation Committee (2nd defendant) to henceforth pay directly all monies standing to the credit of the judiciary to the National Judicial Council (NJC)”.

He is asking the court to determine “whether by the provisions of Sections 121 (1), (2) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), it is proper for the state governor to include the budgetary expenditure of the judiciary in the state which is charged upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state in the budgetary estimates the Governor presents to the state House of Assembly”.

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Maduabuchi is also seeking a ruing on “whether by the provisions of Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), it is proper to pay funds standing to the credit of the judiciary in the state to any other person or authority outside the heads of court in the various states as directed by Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution”.

Furthermore, he wants the court to determine “whether by the community reading of Sections 81(3), 121(3) and 162(9) of the 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Federation Account Allocation Committee is right in paying the fund standing to the credit of the judiciary to various state governors and not National Judicial Council as directed by the above sections of the constitution”.

He is also praying the court for an order “directing the Federation Account Allocation Committee (2nd defendant) to henceforth pay directly all monies standing to the credit of the judiciary to the National Judicial Council (NJC)”, as well as an order directing accountant-generals of states “to pay directly to each head of court in the state, all such funds standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state”.

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