President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Akpata PHOTO: Twitter
• Furnish details of S’Court income, expenditure, lawyer asks CJN, NJC
Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has urged the judiciary to entrench accountability and probity in the way it expends allocated resources.
It noted that while the fight for increased budgetary allocations for the judiciary continues, it is important that available resources are used for the welfare of judicial officers and improvement of infrastructure and facilities.
This was contained in a statement signed by NBA President, Olumide Akpata. The statement was in response to a letter written by 14 justices of the Supreme Court to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), alleging, among others, various improprieties and administrative inefficiencies that have not only affected their judicial responsibilities, but also impacted on justice administration.
Akpata stressed that the current developments at the Supreme Court and the CJN’s response underscore the urgency for fundamental reform in the judiciary.
The statement reads: “While the NBA notes the CJN’s response and appreciates the economic challenges plaguing the country as a whole, it is nonetheless disheartening to learn that in spite of the high expectations that the society have of the justices, some of the basic necessities which they require to function properly are currently lacking.
“Besides their stagnated income over the years, a situation where there is no formal scheme for the mandatory appointment of judicial assistants for the justices, no regular training for their improvement, limited or no Internet access for their operations, is, to say the least, unfortunate.
“For justices of the Supreme Court, who are generally known to be taciturn in making demands, to resort to penning down their grievances in the unprecedented manner they have done indicates that they had obviously reached their tolerance peak. Thankfully, as the CJN advised, these issues are now being addressed in the short term.”
MEANWHILE, a lawyer and human rights campaigner, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, has written a Freedom of Information letter to the CJN, requesting details of the income and expenditure of the apex court.
The lawyer, who said he was writing on the strength of relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, requested the Certified True Copy (CTC) of documents under his (CJN’s) custody, as they are public materials. He said he would sue if his demands were not met in seven days in the letter dated June 22, 2022, which was acknowledged the same day by the office of the CJN.
He also wrote to the chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC), through the secretary of the NJC, requesting similar information.
The lawyer is asking, among others, for “proof of receipt of the total funds disbursed to your lordship from the NJC, as the head of the Supreme Court from January 1, 2019 till date; the financial statement of accounts of the Supreme Court from January 1, 2019 till date; proof of the total expenditure of the Supreme Court for the period of January 1, 2019 to date, including the lists of capital projects of the court within this period.”