The Kogi state branch of the Judiciary Staff Union, JUSUN, on Tuesday, dragged Governor Yahaya Bello and the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Nasiru Ajanah, before the National Industrial Court over unpaid salaries and non-remittance of funds due to the state judiciary.
Staff members of the judicial arm of the state government had been on strike since December last year over accumulated salary arrears of eight months.
In the originating summons filed at the court by counsel to the union, Chief U. M. Enwere, the union is asking the court to determine among others whether Kogi State Judiciary is not entitled, as of right, amounts standing to its credit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state and payable to the heads of courts in line with section 231(3) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and section 5 of the Kogi State Public Finance (Judiciary Special Provisions) Law No 6 of 1991.
The union also wants the Industrial Court to determine whether the executive arm of the state has the powers or constitutional right to usurp the powers of the Judicial Service Commission by scheming to take over payment of judiciary staff salaries and other emoluments without reference to and approval of the Judicial Service Commission or whether on the other hand the CJ and other heads of courts have received any subvention since 1st July, 2018 and have refused to pay the salaries and other emoluments of judiciary staff.
The union, therefore, wants the court to declare that subject to the provisions of the constitution and laws of Kogi State amounts standing to the credit of Kogi State Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state be paid directly to the heads of courts in the state.
It also wants the court to declare that the executive lacks the power to withhold judiciary’s funds and the executive’s continued refusal to pay such funds due to the judiciary as unconstitutional, illegal, ultra vires, wrong, null and void and of no effect.
It asked for an order of the court to direct the full payment of the accumulated eight months subvention owed the three courts and the Judicial Service Commission and a perpetual injunction restraining the governor and his agents from continuing to withhold amounts standing to the credit of Kogi State Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Funds of the State.
In addition, the union wants the court to restrain the executive from taking steps that tends towards usurping the powers of the JSC in terms of payment of emoluments and discipline of judiciary staff.
Other defendants in the matter are the Attorney-General of the state, the Commissioner for Finance, the Accountant-General, the Auditor-General, the Grand Kadi, the President of the Customary Court of Appeal and the state Judicial Service Commission.
The court is yet to give a date for commencement of hearing of the matter.