The House of Representatives, has dismissed the N110 billion allocation to the judiciary in the 2021 Appropriation Bill and especially faulted the Federal Government for failing to increase the fund despite appointing eight more Justices of the Supreme Court.
This is just as the House criticised the revenue being generated by judicial bodies, which the lawmakers said should be rendering social services.
The House Committee on Judiciary had organised a budget defence session for the National Judicial Council and other bodies.
Those who appeared before the lawmakers include the Supreme Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Federal High Court, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, and the National Judicial Institute.
The Council Secretary, NJC, Mr Ahmed Saleh, in his presentation, demanded more allocation to the judiciary.
“We are all living witnesses to the current situation in the country. In view of this, I want to reiterate the same position that the Nigerian judiciary is indeed in dire need of increased funding,” he said.
Saleh disclosed that the courts across all cadres are getting more judges, putting more pressure on the judiciary’s already lean purse.
Saleh told the committee that NJC’s initial proposal for the entire judiciary was N187,945,531,476 but a lot of adjustments had to be made as N110bn was “given to us.”
In his presentation, Deputy Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Reuben Jego, warned that activities at the apex court might suffer, with the reduction of its allocation despite having eight more justices.
Jego said, “This decrease will adversely affect the court’s activities due to the recent appointments of eight additional Honourable Justices to the full complement of court bench capacity as provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
These appointments, which were graciously approved by the distinguished National Assembly, are expected to impact our capital expenditure.”
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Onofiok Luke, who was miffed by the revelations, described the reductions as illogical.
Luke said, “I don’t know the logic behind the decrease in the allocation to the Supreme Court for 2021 as against what was obtainable even in 2020 when we did not have the number of Justices that we have today. If you had budgeted N10bn when the court was less number of justices in the 2020 appropriation, and just towards the end of 2020 the President appointed not one, not two, not three but eight Justices of the Supreme Court, I think wisdom, logic and common sense should prevail on the need to even make an increase. Assuming an increase over the allocation for 2020 could not be achieved, why not remain at the benchmark?”