1. Introduction: There are three (3) organs of Government through which a State carries out its governance duties, they are: (i) The Executive arm of Government, (ii) The Legislature and (iii) the Judiciary. While the Executive arm is the more prominent one, usually political and the face of governance, the legislature is responsible for making laws and regulations which would guide the business of governance in a State. The primary business of the Judiciary on the other hand is the adjudication of matters and the interpretation of Laws and Regulations of the State using same to evaluate issues which have been brought before it to adjudicate with the sole aim of ensuring that such adjudication and or interpretation maintains the rule of Law, without fear and or favor.

2. Baron de Montessquieu 1 , in his work titled "The Spirit of the Laws (1978)" proposed that for these arms of Government to effectively discharge their duties, there must be independence between them. This proposition resulted in what is today known as "The Separation of Powers". Over the years, the doctrine of separation of powers has become a fundamental concept in Global Governance Systems. In Nigeria, Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) as amended (2023) 2 entrenches the principle of separation of powers among the three arms of Government in the fabric of the Constitution of our Nation. But a pertinent question would be, "Are the arms of Government really independent in Nigeria."? Can an arm of Government be independent if it clings to the apron of another arm for its funding and financial approvals? This Article would seek to review the financial autonomy or absence of it, in the Nigerian Judiciary as an independent organ of Government in Nigeria.

3. The principle of separation of power as enshrined in Section 6 of the CFRN 3 vests the exclusive judicial powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the Courts otherwise known as the Judiciary arm of Government. Per the financial autonomy of the Judiciary, Section 81 (3) of CFRN 4 provides that; "Any amount standing to the credit of the Independence National Electoral Commission, National Assembly and Judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation shall be paid directly to the said bodies respectively; in the case of the Judiciary, such amount shall be paid to the National Judicial Council for disbursement to the heads of the courts established for the Federation and the State under Section 6 of this Constitution."While Section 121(3) (b) 5 of the CFRN provides that "Any amount standing to the credit of the Judiciary of a State in the Consolidated

Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the heads of the Courts concerned." Sections 81(3) and 121(3) (b) of the CFRN leaves no one in doubt, that the intent of the draftsmen is that there should be a clear delineation of the Judiciary's funds to the intent that they enjoy full autonomy.

4. Interestingly, Section 121 (4A) established a Disbursement Committee for each state of the Federation consisting of 11 members and 5 of those Committee Members are drawn from the Judiciary, 3 from the Executive Arm of Government and 3 from the Legislative Arm of Government.That again validates the assertion that Financial Autonomy of the Judiciary is considered a priority by the draftsmen of the CFRN. The reason for this Financial Autonomy is not far fetched, "It is often said

that he who pays the piper, dictates the tune." Therefore, if any of the other 2 arms of Government are in control of the Finances of the Judiciary, it is reasonable to opine that they can continue to pull the strings of the Judiciary hence impeding the capacity of the Judiciary to discharge its functions without fear or favor. To underscore the importance of the Judiciary's Financial Autonomy, Latimer's House Guidelines of the Common Wealth 6 provides that, "Sufficient and sustainable funding should be provided to enable the Judiciary to perform its functions to the highest standards. Such funds, once voted for the Judiciary by the legislature, should be protected from alienation or misuse. The allocation or withholding of funding should not be used as a means of exercising improper control over the Judiciary."The Courts have been vocal, and rightfully so, in advocating for the Financial Autonomy of the Judiciary. 7

5. The Law V Reality: While the position of the Law on the Financial Autonomy is very clear, the Executive Arm of Government in Nigeria across several states sometimes continue to insist that the budget of the Judiciary be subject to the approval of the Executive arm of Government. Oftentimes the sums contained in the Appropriation Act and or Law(s), are not paid directly to the Judiciary Accounts or the monies paid to the Judiciary is less that the amount appropriated in the Appropriation Law of the State(s) flagrant disregard to the provisions of Section 121 (4B) and (4C) of the CFRN and in fact an illegal act.

6. Conclusion: In John Aikpokpo-Martins, Esq & Anor. V. Governor of Delta State & 5 Ors 8 ,Hon. Justice G.B. Briki Okolosi found that the State Judiciary must enjoy financial autonomy, same as the National Judiciary body as expressly provided for in the Constitution. This is a welcome victory for the Financial Autonomy of the Judiciary and one which will hope will be replicated across at the 36 States of the Federation.


1. https://constitutioncenter.org/the-constitution/historic-document-library/detail/montesquieuthe-spirit- of-the-laws-1748 accessed 21/12/2023 at 12:02pm.

2. 1999 Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) as amended (2023).

3. ibid.

4. ibid.

5. ibid.

6. https://www.cpahq.org/media/kafl4zuf/commonwealth_principles_cpa_sept_2023-v2_single.pdf accessed 21/12/2023 at 01: 25pm.

7. A.G Abia State & 35 Ors, v. A.G Federation (2022). LPELR-57010 (SC)., Olisa Agbakoba v. A.G Federation & 2 Ors (2012)14 NWLR (Pt 1320) 221 at 243.

8. Aikpokpo-Martins, Esq &anor. V. Governor of Delta State & 5 ors (2012) 14 NWLR(Pt 1320)221 at 243

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