Govs committed to autonomy of judiciary, legislature – Tambuwal

Sokoto state governorHon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal says governors of the thirty-six states of the federation, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, (NGF) are unequivocally committed to the autonomy of the judiciary and the legislature in the country.

Tambuwal, who is also the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governors’ forum, made the declaration recently at a special Attorney-General’s colloquium in honour of Justice Ayodeji Simon Daramola, the Chief Judge of Ekiti state.

According to the Vice Chairman of the NGF, “As Governors of the 36 States under the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), let me state very clearly that we are unequivocally committed to the autonomy of the judiciary and the legislature.

“In the journey to our current position as Chief Executives of our various States, we have all benefitted from the independence and professionalism of the judiciary, be it at the level of administering our Oath of Office or our electoral victory being upheld at the Tribunal or in Court in the interest of democracy, justice, and fairness.

“The concept of judicial autonomy has its foundations in the time tested doctrine of Separation of Powers.

“The main object is to avoid autocratic government by eliminating the over concentration of powers in one person, agency or institution.

“It’s critical democratic elements is the principle of checks and balances between and among the three arms of government.

Tambuwal explained that the recent misunderstanding on the financial autonomy of the Judiciary is predicated on the need to establish an implementation framework to the 4th Alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 121(3). His words, “What we have questioned, and we have made this known at every opportunity, is the process of implementing this provision of the Constitution.

“As Chief Executives of our respective States, we feel compelled by our Solemn Undertaking Under Oath to protect and preserve the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended).

“The Presidential Executive Order No 10 of 2020 is a unique piece of regulation which we believe deserves highest scrutiny if we must uphold the federal principle which forms a fundamental feature of our Constitution.

“This is the basis for our engagements with relevant stakeholders at various levels as well as our participation in the Technical Committee, which was constituted to explore how to implement financial autonomy granted by the Constitution.

“As Governors, we will be failing in our responsibility if we refuse to draw the attention of the President, stakeholders and the country to grave concerns about the constitutionality of Executive Order #10 of 2020. That was the basis of the position that we took on the Executive Order #10.

“The Executive Order #10 ostensibly intended to support the implementation of judicial financial autonomy, was completely unnecessary and ill advised.

“Let me at this juncture state clearly that we never questioned the right of Mr. President to issue Executive Orders. We only stated that S.121(3) did not require Presidential Executive Fiat to become implementable. Provisions of the Constitution are self-executing and S.121(3) is not an exception.

“Any Governor who refuses or neglects to enforce these provisions would be in clear violation of his Oath of Office. S121(3) requires only administrative measures to be implemented”, he stated further.

” Let us not forget that the Federal government by Section 81(3) is responsible for all the capital and recurrent expenditure of all courts provided by the Constitution in Section 6 but has left the State government to continually fund capital expenditures of the Courts …. From the combined reading of the provisions of S. 81(3) (c) and Item 21 (e) of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, the NGF has made the point that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government of Nigeria to fund all the capital and recurrent expenditures of all Courts of Records as provided by S. 6(5)(a) – (i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended). What happens in practice is that the Federal Government pays the recurrent expenditure including the salaries of Judges and Khadis and leave States to take care of the capital.”

The Sokoto State governor expressed happiness that a consensus has finally been reached on the matter of judicial autonomy.

According to him, “The agreement allows a period of 45 days for implementation structures to be put in place across States including the enactment of a Fund Management Law which will grant the Judiciary the power to manage its capital and recurrent expenditures in accordance with the provisions of constitution. Budgetary releases”

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