• Affirms Fayemi administration’s Zero Tolerance for Child Abuse and Neglect.
In a move to further ease the enforcement of the child support court orders against Public Officers in the State Public Service, Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda has issued a legal advise to the state’s Accountant-General.
Fapohunda said he was informed by the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) of the difficulty it faces in enforcing the said court orders against officers in the State Public Service and has become necessary to advise the accountant general’s office on the legal implications of the refusal to obey such orders.
According to him, “this is often in cases where the parents of the child are separated or the child was born out of marriage and that these difficulties are largely as a result of provisions in the public service rules, regulations and extant circulars that require compliance with certain procedural requirements before such Orders can be executed.”
He said that “this situation has in a number of verified cases brought untold hardship on child beneficiaries”
He however advised the accountant general’s office as follows: “The Office of the Public Defender (OPD) is established by the Ekiti State Government, with the mandate to provide free legal representation to vulnerable residents across the 16 Local Government Areas of Ekiti State in criminal and civil matters.
“In civil matters, the OPD represents indigent citizens including in divorce and child support cases. The OPD through litigation and alternative dispute resolution recovers compensation, child support payments or any other remedies as applicable for its clients.
Speaking further, he said: “The Government of Ekiti State has adopted a policy of zero tolerance for all forms of child abuse and neglect. The failure or refusal of a parent to pay child support as ordered by a Court resulting in hardship or suffering of a child amounts to child abuse and neglect.
Fapohunda advised that,
“The Order of a High Court or Magistrate Court overrides any Public Service Rules, Regulations, Circular or Directive. Where a Court orders child support deductions should be made from the salary of any Public Officers in the State Public Service child support, such Order must be respected and obeyed without delay.
“The office of the Accountant-General is obliged to ensure that there are no bureaucratic or procedural obstacles that will delay or frustrate the execution of such order.
“The Office of the Accountant-General is now advised that refusal to obey Court Orders in respect of child support payments will amount to contempt of Court. Contempt is a criminal offence punishable by Law.
“Any public officer who deliberately or willfully obstructs the execution of such Order and is found to be in contempt will be personally responsible for the cost of his/her legal defence.
The office of the Accountant General was also provided the recommended procedure to adopt in the enforcement of Court Orders on child support which are that, on notification in writing by the OPD of a Court Order, the Office of the Accountant-General shall
Seek legal advise from the Ministry of Justice;
Advise the officer that is affected by the said order
Subject to the advise of the Ministry of Justice, The Accountant General’s office shall also deduct the amount stated in the Order from the salary of the said officer
Where it is not possible to deduct the full amount for reason of insufficient funds, deductions must be made on a monthly basis until the entire amount stated in the Court Order is liquidated.
All payments must be made in favour of OPD to the credit of the designated parent, guardian or any other person identified by the OPD.
A copy of the legal advise will be served on the Office of the Head of Service for further dissemination within the State Public Service.