The governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia, has pledged to enforce financial autonomy for the state’s judicial branch. This commitment comes in response to persistent demands from judicial workers seeking financial independence, particularly at the state level in Nigeria, which had caused disruptions in court operations across the country.Premium Time reports.

Governor Alia, a Roman Catholic priest who assumed office on May 29 under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC), assured that the state would attain financial autonomy in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Benue State Judiciary Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) Law of 2021.

The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Kula Tersoo, conveyed this pledge in a statement issued on Saturday during the 2023/2024 Benue State Judiciary Legal year celebration in Makurdi.

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In contrast, the previous administration led by Samuel Ortom had clashed with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) Benue State chapter in June 2021 over a contentious claim that the judiciary was on a first-line charge.

Governor Alia emphasized the importance of financial independence for judicial officers, highlighting that it would enable judges to apply the law impartially while upholding the fundamental human rights of citizens. He also pointed out that an investment-friendly environment in Benue could only be achieved if the courts could swiftly handle business cases, a challenge facing Nigeria’s judiciary.

Governor Alia expressed concern about the safety of judges who often had to travel using public transportation, including commercial motorcycles, and pledged to enhance the welfare of judicial officers. He directed the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Fidelis Mnyim, to collaborate with the Chief Judge, Maurice Ikpambese, to devise a plan for realizing this objective.

Furthermore, Governor Alia urged the judges to prioritize the speedy dispensation of justice in the new legal year. Chief Judge Ikpambese and Attorney-General Mnyim also underscored the judiciary’s role in strengthening the electoral process in Nigeria during their remarks.

The event was attended by high-ranking members of the executive branch.

Background: On April 6, 2021, JUSUN initiated a nationwide strike to demand the implementation of constitutional provisions that place the judiciary on a first-line charge in the budgets of various states. After negotiations with federal and state government officials and the signing of agreements with state governors, the strike was suspended. JUSUN accused four states, including Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, and Bayelsa, of withholding or deducting the salaries of judiciary workers during the 64-day strike that disrupted court operations nationwide.


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