Presidential Executive Order On Judicial Autonomy Ill Advised, Governors Insist

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 10 seeking to confer autonomy on the judiciary was unnecessary and ill-advised.

Explaining that they never questioned the right of the President to issue executive orders, the state chief executives observed that Section 121(3) that touched on independence of the judiciary never required presidential fiat to become implementable.

The forum said it expected Buhari to have consulted widely before issuing the order, adding that exercising such powers unilaterally amounted to illegality.

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The governors expressed their resolve for the autonomy of the judiciary and legislature. Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who was speaking yesterday in Ado Ekiti at the Attorney General’s colloquium titled “Judicial Autonomy: Perspective of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, organised by the Ekiti State Ministry of Justice Academy in honour of the retiring Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Daramola, maintained that Buhari was wrongly advised and the pronouncement undermined the powers of the governors.

He said: “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.

“The recent misunderstanding on the financial autonomy of the judiciary is predicated on the need to establish an implementation framework to the fourth alteration of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in Section 121(3). What we have questioned is the process of implementing this provision of the constitution.”

Tambuwal went on: “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 directive.

“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 Section 121(3) did not require presidential executive fiat to become implementable.”

The governor expressed delight that consensus had been reached on the conundrum, urging that the ongoing strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) should be immediately suspended.

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