Court orders Kogi Gov, others to release judiciary workers’ pay arrears………..

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Directs CJ, others to commence immediate payment

Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello

Succour seems imminent for thousands of unpaid court workers in Kogi State as the National Industrial Court of Nigerian (NICN) in Abuja ordered Governor, Yahaya Bello and others to released forthwith,funds due to the state’s Judiciary, withheld since July 2018.

Justice Edith Agbakoba, in a judgment, also ordered the state’s Chief Judge and other heads of courts. in the state to immediately commence payment of salaries, allowances and emoluments owed to court workers on their receipt of funds from the Executive arm of government.

The judgment is on a suit marked: NCIN/LKJ/2019 filed by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) against the Governor of Kogi State and eight others.

The others are the Attorney-General, Kogi State, Commissioner for Finance, Accountant-General, Auditor-General, the Chief Judge, the Grand Kadi, President, Customary Court of Appeal and the Judicial Service Commission.

The plaintiff said its members in Kogi State have not been paid since July 2018 owing to the failure of the state government to release funds due to the Judiciary from the Consolidated Revenue Funds of the state, from which salaries and other payments are made to court workers in the state.

Justice Agbakoba, in the judgment delivered on June 3, 2019, a copy of which The Nation sighted in Abuja on Sunday, declared as a violation of sections 121(3) of the Constitution and 5 of the Kogi State Public Finance (Judiciary Special Provisions) Laws No. 6 of 1991 the failure of the first to fifth defendants to release to heads of courts funds due to the Judiciary from which the salaries, allowances and other payments are to be made.

The first to fifth defendants are the Governor, the Attorney-General, Finance Commissioner, Accountant-General and Auditor-General.

Justice Agbakoba, who held that the first to fifth lacked the power to withhold court workers’ salaries and other entitlements which are payable from any amount standing to the credit of the Kogi State Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state.

The judge, particularly ordered “the 1st – 5th defendants are hereby directed to pay forthwith, the arrears of salaries, allowances and emoluments of the members of the claimant from the N1, 529, 885, 261.92 being eight months accumulated arrears standing to the credit of the said Judiciary from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State and payable directly to the heads of the courts from which salaries and emoluments of the members of the claimant ought to be paid. for the past eight months since July 2018 to February 2019.

“The 1st – 5th defendants whether acting by themselves, their agents. prlvies or servants, are by a perpetual injunction order of this court hereby restrained from continuing to withhold the monthly salaries, allowances and emoluments payable from subventions or amounts standing to the credit of Kogi State Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Funds of the State and payable directly to the heads of the courts concerned in line with the provision of section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended).

“By order of this court the defendants are hereby directed to release the salaries, allowances and emoluments of the members of the claimant which are paid from subventions or the amount standing to the credit of the Kogi State Judiciary with effect from July 2018 to each heads of courts, the 6th 9th defendants, as follows: High Court (N13582 1049.83 (arrears per month); Customary Court (N26, 310 922.39 arrears per month); Sharia Court (N23,781,827.83 arrears per month); Judicial Service Commission (N5,32 1,807.69 (arrears per month), cumulatively amounting, for the eight months, a total sum of N1, 529, 885. 261,92 accordingly.

“The 6th to 9th defendants are by an order of this court hereby directed to commence payment of salaries and emoiuments of the members of the claimants as Judicial staff upon the receipt of’ the subventions from the 1st to 5th defendants.”

Listed as the sixth to ninth defendants are the Chief Judge, the Grand Kadi, the President, Customary Court of Appeal and the Judicial Service Commission.

“It is hereby declared that payment to the members of the Claimant by hand by he |st-5th defendants is illegal and offends the principle of separation of powers as the Executive arm cannot pay Judicial workers being contrary to the clear provisions of sections 121(3), 125(23(6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and therefore, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.

“The 1st-5th defendants are by a perpetual injunction of this Court hereby restrained from interfering with the mode of payment of the staff of the Kogi State Judiciary particularly members of the claimant to collect their salaries by hand from the executive as it is illegal and breaches the principle of separation of powers, therefore, is unconstitutional and null and void.”

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