The Ekiti State Government has filed a suit against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) over the constitutionality of his directive issued on April 20, 2020, prescribing Virtual Court Sittings to the Head of Courts at federal and state levels.
In the suit filed through the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, Ekiti is asking the apex court to issue an order striking down the directive as it relates to Virtual or Remote Court sittings.
It also wants the Supreme Court to nullify the directive to the extent that same purports to be binding on state High Courts and other subordinate courts in Ekiti State for being inconsistent with Section 1(3), 4(6), 5(2), 6(2), 36(3) and (4), 272 and 274 of the 1999 Constitution.
Apart from the Attorney General of the Federation, the Attorneys General of Lagos & Ogun States who have implemented virtual court proceedings were also listed as second and third defendants.
Ekiti State further wants the Supreme Court to determine whether the AGF’s guidelines are not a derogation from the legislative, executive and judicial law-making, law execution and adjudicatory rules making powers exclusively vested in states of the federation in respect of states courts, by virtue of Sections 1(3), 4(6), 5(2), 6(2), 272 and 272 and 274 of the Constitution.
The plaintiff is also asking the apex court to decide whether Lagos and Ogun state having adopted virtual court hearings pursuant to the lockdown, the three arms of Government in Ekiti State are bound to conduct their legislative, executive and judicial functions pertaining to adjudication in state courts in compliance with the directive upon which the National Judicial Council formulated the provisions of Articles E(1) to E(13) of its Guidelines (issued on May 7, 2020).
The Supreme Court is yet to fix a date for the hearing of the matter.