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Court fixes June 30 to deliver judgment in suit seeking abolition of fees by political parties

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The ECOWAS Court has fixed judgment for June 30 in a suit that seeks among others, the abolition of the practice where political parties impose fees on members who want to contest for public offices.

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The applicants in the suit filed by five Nigerians, are alleging that the fees imposed by Nigeria’s political parties for aspirants to public offices amounted to the violation of their human rights.

The applicants: Kenneth Roberts, Goodluck Edafe, Matthew Oguche, Macauley William-Jumbo and Josephine Okeke, who said they reside in different cities in Nigeria, claimed that the imposition of fees has resulted in a gradual and systematic entrenchment of plutocracy, a government only by the rich in Nigeria.

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Justice Edward Amoako Asante, who presided over the hearing yesterday, adjourned the matter for judgment after hearing both parties.

Addressing the court, plaintiffs’ lawyer, Festus Ogwuche argued that registered political parties in Nigeria were in the habit of imposing outrageous fees for declaration/expression of interest and nomination forms thereby discriminating against medium and low income aspirants to public offices in the Respondent state.

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Judiciary

The Silence of the Attorney General of the Federation on the Closure of All Court In Nigeria: A Depiction of Love For The Government or Hatred?

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On the 6th day of April 2021, a national strike action was declared by Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria.
The strike is occasioned by the failure the Nigerian government to gant the Judiciary arm of government it’s financial autonomy as earlier agreed. We have heard instances where the Chief Justice of the Federation pleaded with judicial Staff to suspend the JUSUN nation wide strike action, which to me was not even necessary.
I have heard from some notable Nigerians on JUSUN strike stating reasons why the strike should be suspended, but haven’t heard from our own Attorney General the person of Abubakar Malami SAN who is duty bound as the Chief Law Officer to advise the government on the need to end this strike. Should his silence be misconstrued if it is viewed as hatred to the Nigerian government or be construed if viewed as an act of love? Nigerians are all waiting to see his action on this JUSUN nation wide strike.
He should be able to draw a plan for the government to put an end to this issue of Judicial autonomy, it is still not late for him to swing into action for it is within his powers to do so as his powers goes beyond Criminal Prosecution.
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Judiciary

Private Car Owners Do Not Need Roadworthiness Issued By VIO – Appeal Court

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The Court of Appeal sitting at Asaba has just affirmed the judgment of the High Court, Ughelli declaring that the Delta State government lacks the power to authorize and demand the payment of levy and issuance of Road Worthiness Certificate in respect of private vehicles.

Justice Joseph Eyo Ekanem On 12th March 2021, while delivering the judgment in appeal NO: CA/B/333/2017, stated that he found no merit in the Appeal and therefore affirmed the decision of the trial court.

According to the Certified True Copy of the judgment sighted by TheNigeriaLawyer, the Court further stated that “Before drawing the curtain on this judgment, I need to remind public bodies and public officers that a public body or public officer vested with statutory power must take care not to exceed or abuse its or his power.

It or he must keep within the limits of the authority committed to it. This is to prevent arbitrariness and the rule of man rather than the rule of law.

The Vehicle Inspection Officers went beyond the powers vested in them by the Law and the RTR by violently stopping the private vehicle of the Respondent on a public highway using menacing tactics and dangerous implements to demand a certificate of roadworthiness which the said vehicle is not required to have. Such conduct sends a wrong signal to the citizens who may adopt such strong-arm tactics as a means of settling disputes.”

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The court also holds that a private motor vehicle is a motor vehicle belonging to a particular person or which is for the use of a particular person or group in carrying their personal effects and not for public use or for hire or reward and it will be absurd and completely illegal to impound a private motor vehicle for not having or carrying hackney license or stage carriage license because it is provided as two of the particulars for which any vehicle may be impounded for not having.

The Appeal Court, therefore, awarded the cost of N200,000 against the Appellants.

The Welfare Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association and a human rights lawyer, Kunle Edun, had in 2014 brought an action against the Governor of Delta State, the Attorney of the state and the Senior Vehicle Inspector Officer, Ughelli North Local Govt Area, Delta for asking him to produce a valid Road Worthiness Certificate for his private vehicle, when there is no provision of law in the state for such certificate.

Kunle Edun in his Summons noted that the said certificate is required for commercial transporters or haulage.

The trial Court having gone through their pleadings noted that the Road Traffic Law of the state does not confer on them the right to demand and /or collect any fee/ levy or issue certificate of Road Worthiness in respect of vehicles used for private purposes.

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The court also noted that the money collected by the Defendants to the issuance of the said certificate was illegal and a violation of the provision of the Road Traffic Law (CAP R9) Law of Delta State, 2008.

The trial court, therefore, awarded the cost in the sum of N100,000 against the Defendants in favour of Kunle Edun.

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Judiciary

Judiciary Workers Shut Down Supreme Court As Indefinite Strike Begins

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Judiciary workers under the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) have commenced an indefinite nationwide strike, thereby shutting down the Supreme Court complex in Abuja, in line with their industrial action.

The strike began on Tuesday, based on their demands which include a financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government.

 

The development came as a defiance to the appeal by the Nigerian Bar Association to shelve the strike, saying it was ill-timed, considering the COVID-19 constraints the Nigerian courts had been battling within the last year.

Other Supreme Court workers who are returning from the Easter break were not able to access the complex on Tuesday as the two key judiciary institutions – the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) – which share the same premises with the Supreme Court were also affected.

Staff buses were also seen making a detour upon arriving at the barricaded gate of the Supreme Court.

The court located in the Three Arms Zone in Abuja, a neighbourhood it shares with the Presidential Villa and the National Assembly Complex.

Workers of both the NJC and the FJSC are part of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the umbrella body of all judiciary workers at all levels in the nation, and are also bound by the strike declared by the union.

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The action taken by the union at the Supreme Court Tuesday morning is expected to be replicated across all Nigerian courts.

JUSUN on April 1 had issued a circular to the effect of its strike, saying it was necessitated by the failure of the federal and state governments to implement a judgment of the Federal High Court, which granted financial autonomy to the judicial arm of government.

The union stated that it had at its last National Executive meeting on March 13, 2021 in Abuja, issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government to implement the financial autonomy of the judiciary with a threat that “failure of which JUSUN will have no other option but to resume the suspended national strike action.”

“Therefore, as a result of the public holiday on April 5, 2021, the strike action has been postponed to Tuesday, April 6, 2021,” the circular partly read.

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