Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, thursday challenged governors to respect the constitutional provision of the independence of the judiciary by ensuring its financial autonomy.
He said the only way government could reposition the country’s judicial system was to ensure its full autonomy, saying anything short of that would be abuse of rule of law which he described as undemocratic.
Speaking at the commissioning of Justice Umar Abdullahi Judiciary Health Centre in Katsina, Muhammad said the three tiers of government were partners in ensuring good governance but judiciary has been hampered to perform ultimately because of financial dependence on the executive arm.
Muhammad, who was represented by the Supreme Court Judge, Justice Uwani Musa Abba-Aji, said Nigeria remains the country with highest numbers of litigations per judge and judges work long hours manually thereby imposing dangers on their health, welfare and lifestyles, hence the call for judicial autonomy.
He said: “The branches of government as provided for under the constitution are partners for ensuring good governance and sustenance of democracy, unfortunately the judicial arm is in most cases hampered to perform ultimately as a result of financial dependence on the executive branch.
“I will continue to reiterate my calls to governors to respect the independence of the judiciary by ensuring the financial autonomy of the court, anything short of this will only amount to abuse of rule of law which is undemocratic.”
He, however, lauded Katsina State Government for building the healthcare centre for judiciary officers and staff, describing it as the first ever health facility in the history of the judiciary in Nigeria.
He urged judges in the state to reciprocate the gestures by improving on their productive, saying the era of non-performance in the judiciary was over as disengagement await any judge found wanting.
In his remarks, Masari said the state government has been respecting the independence of the judiciary by giving judges in the state all the needed work apparatus, enhancing their welfares, training and retraining of judicial staff.
He said: “Katsina State respects the independence of the judiciary. Therefore, medical allowances, annual court vacation allowance, robes and dress allowances of judges are being promptly settled.”
Earlier, Katsina State Chief Judge, Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar, said the healthcare centre would provide primary healthcare for judges, kadis, their families and supporting staff of the judiciary to enhance productive.
He affirmed that all judicial staff have been enrolled into the National Health Insurance Scheme through the state health insurance agency.