Independence of the judiciary: Olumide Babalola sues the President , Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and two others for violation of fundamental rights.
A Lagos-Lawyer, Mr Olumide Babalola has filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja against the President, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and two others for violation of section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended)

In Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1349/2019 which was filed on Wednesday, 6th day of November 2019, the Applicant sued the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the National Judicial Council and the National Assembly Service Commission for the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that the 1st Respondent’s appointment of the Chairman and Members of the 2nd Respondent interferes and likely to further interfere with the Applicant’s right to fair hearing as it relates to the independence and impartiality of the courts and tribunals in Nigeria guaranteed under section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) (The Constitution).

A DECLARATION that section 2 of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act, LFN 2010 violates and is inconsistent with the provision of section 36(1) of the Constitution in relation to independence and impartiality of the courts and tribunals in Nigeria and thereby unconstitutional, null and void.

A DECLARATION that by virtue of section 158(1) of the Constitution on the 2nd Respondent’s independence, its membership ought to be constituted by appointees of the executive, legislature and judiciary.

A DECLARATION that by virtue of section 36(1) of the Constitution on independence and impartiality of the courts and tribunals, salaries and allowances of the judges should be determined by the 2nd Respondent but subject to the advice of the National Judicial Commission.

A DECLARATION that by virtue of section 36(1) of the Constitution on independence and impartiality of the courts and tribunals, salaries and allowances of the judges should be determined by the 2nd Respondent but subject to the advice of the National Judicial Commission.

A DECLARATION that by virtue of section 84(7) of the Constitution, the salaries and allowances of judicial officers, being a recurrent expenditure, ought to be upwardly reviewed bi-annually.

AN ORDER setting aside the provision of section 2 of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act, LFN 2010 for being unconstitutional, null and void.

AN ORDER setting aside the appointment of Chairman and members of the 2nd Respondent forthwith.

AN ORDER directing the 1st Respondent, 3rd Respondent and the 4th Respondents to send names of their nominees for membership of the 2nd Respondent to the Clerk of National Assembly within 7 days of delivery of judgment herein.

AN ORDER directing the 2nd Respondent to, at least, bi-annually, review the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers mentioned in section 84(4) of the Constitution to ensure independence and impartiality of the courts and tribunals in Nigeria.

AND FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDER(S) as this Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

In his affidavit, the Applicant alleged that, section 36 provides for independence and impartiality of courts but by the President’s appointment of members of the RMAFC, the courts and tribunals cannot be independent and that the President’s appointment of members of the 2nd Respondent who determines the salaries and allowances of the judicial officers has in the past and is further likely to interfere with the independence and impartiality of the courts and tribunals and that the President’s appointment of persons who determine the judges’ salary is likely to interfere with my right to fair hearing in the courts as their independence and impartiality cannot be guaranteed by reason of the fact that their salaries and allowances are fixed by persons appointed by the President.

The matter which was filed on the 6th day of November 2019 is yet to be assigned to any judge.

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