HURILAW, Adegboruwa commend Buhari over judicial fiscal autonomy order
The Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) and the Lagos lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, which seeks to enforce financial autonomy for the legislature and judiciary of the 36 states of the Federation.
The group said although they have doubts an executive order is the ideal instrument for implementing financial autonomy at states, they appreciate the effort of the President to take such action, which is akin to enforcing the judgment of the Federal High Court in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013 between Olisa Agbakoba vs FG, NJC & National Assembly.
“In the above matter, Dr. Agbakoba (SAN) sued the Federal Government and two others on the interpretation of sections 81(2) and section 84(1), (2), (3), (4) and (7) of the 1999 Constitution. He, amongst other reliefs, challenged the National Judicial Council’s practice of sending its budget to the Budget Office of the Executive arm for appropriation.
“He argued that it was an infringement on the financial autonomy of the Judiciary. The Court, in its judgment delivered in 2014, agreed with him and ordered the National Judicial Council to henceforth send its budget directly to the National Assembly for appropriation. But since the judgment, no serious effort was made by the Federal Government or States to enforce the Judgment,” the group said in a statement signed by Mr. Collins Okeke, its programme officer.
They therefore expressed the hope that the effort of the President will begin the journey of strengthening the Judiciary.
Similarly, Adegboruwa said he commends the President for his bold initiative to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary, through the executive order newly signed, to enforce the 4th Alteration of the Constitution.
According to him, it takes courage and selflessness for the head of the executive to seek to grant autonomy to the judicial arm of government, when it is considered that most cases in the courts are to check the excesses of the executive arm, being the organ of government responsible for the implementation of policies.
The human rights activist, however, stressed that it is not enough to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary but also to ensure compliance with the rule of law through full and complete obedience to all orders and decisions of the courts.
He therefore urged the President to grant total autonomy to the judiciary by signing another executive order to all parastatals, agencies and departments of government to implement section 287 of the 1999 Constitution by complying with all orders, judgments and decisions of the courts.
His words: “In addition, the statutory power placed upon the Attorneys-General to grant approval for the enforcement of monetary judgments involving government revenue is one of the greatest encroachments upon the powers of the judiciary, whereby a member of the executive is still required to approve or refuse the enforcement of a final decision of any court, even after full trial. The President should uproot this anomaly urgently.
“I urge the Governors of the States to cooperate with the President for the full implementation of this executive order in all parts of the federation.”