Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, has on behalf of the Attorney-General of Abia State and his counterparts from the 35 other States, dragged the Attorney-General of the Federation before the Supreme Court challenging the provisions of the Presidential Executive Order No. 00-10 of 2020 compelling the State Attorneys-General to fund the High Court and other courts in their various States.
The Order which was signed by President Buhari on May 22, 2020, is now being challenged by the State A-Gs as being in violation of Sections 6, 80, 81, 120 and 121 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Amongst other reliefs sort by the 36 Plaintiffs are:-
• A declaration that by virtue of Sections 6 and 81(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Defendant is constitutionally obligated and charged with the responsibility for funding all capital and recurrent expenditure of the High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal of the States, being courts created by Section 6 of the Constitution.
• A declaration that the refusal of the Defendant to fund State courts, is unconstitutional.
• A declaration that the Presidential Order No. 00-10 of May 22, 2020 compelling the 36 States to fund their own court, is unconstitutional.
• An order compelling the Defendant to fund all capital and recurrent expenditure of the High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal of each State.
• An order compelling the Defendant to refund to the Plaintiffs, all sums expended by them on capital and recurrent expenditure on courts in their various States from January 31, 2020 until the date of delivery of the judgement by the Supreme Court.
• An order to set aside the Presidential Executive Order No. 00-10 of May 22, 2020, on the ground that it violates the express provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
In the statement of facts, the Plaintiffs noted that they are currently being saddled with the responsibility of funding their State High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal, apart from the salaries of judicial officers which is paid by the National Judicial Council.
They further noted that this obligation has tremendous impact on the finances of the their individual States, as it currently accounts for a significant portion of the revenue accruing to the States on a continuous basis.
The Plaintiff States have been made to provide courtroom, residential quarters, furniture, vehicles, generators and make other capital expenditure, as well as recurrent expenditure in their respective States.
The Plaintiffs invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to seek a resolution of the dispute and determine the respective constitutional rights, duties, responsibilities and obligations of the parties under the Constitution.
The Plaintiffs therefore, called on the Apex Court to interpret the constitutional provisions on the funding of capital and recurrent expenditure for the Judiciary.
The legal team of the Plaintiffs led by Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN include, Babajide Koku, SAN, Solomon Umoh, SAN, Garba Tetengi, SAN, Tawo Eja Tawo, SAN, Olaseni Adio, SAN, Ekeme Ohwovoriole, SAN, Paul Harris Ogbole, SAN, Aikhunegbe Malik, SAN, Olawunmi Nwano, Oroma Azeez, Kelechi Onwuegbuchulem, Chinwe Onumonu and Abdulhakeem Ibrahim Badamasi.