The Supreme Court, on Monday, reserved judgment in a suit filed by the 36 states governors, seeking an order to compel the Federal Government to fund capital projects in state high courts, Sharia Court of Appeal, and Customary Court of Appeal.
In the suit, the plaintiffs also sought an order to force the government at the central to pay them N66 billion expended on capital projects in the three courts.
The plaintiffs argued that the three courts belong to the federation, noting that their capital projects should flow from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Counsel to the governors, Chief Augustine Alegeh (SAN) told the seven-man panel, led by Justice Muhammad Dattijo, that since the salaries and emoluments of the judges of the three courts are being paid by the Federal Government in line with Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the responsibility of funding the capital projects of the courts should fall on the defendant.
However, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, represented by Tijani Gazali (SAN) opposed the request, urging the apex court to dismiss the application.
Malami argued that while the issue of salaries and other entitlements are expressly stated in the Constitution as the responsibility of the Federal Government, the section provided nothing about capital projects.
The defence held that since the states have been responsible for the funding of capital projects for the courts since 1999, the scenario should be sustained, urging the justices to dismiss the suit and award substantial costs against the states.
After listening to the plaintiff and the defendant, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Tanko, invited five SANs as Amici Curies (friends of the court) for their inputs.
However, three of them, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, and Chief Sebastine Hon backed the governors.
In their separate submissions, they argued that the Federal Government should be responsible for the funding of capital projects in the courts since they are established for the federation.
The other two, Mahmud Magaji and Musibawu Adetumbi, aligned themselves with the AGF.