The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has tackled the Federal Government on Executive Order 10, challenging its legality.
Executive Order 10 seeks to enforce financial autonomy for both the judicial and legislative arm of government in addition to having a provision that grants power to the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) to deduct from the allocations due to a state from the Federation Account, any sums appropriated for the legislature or judiciary which the state fails to release to the two arms of government.
Governor Wike made known his opposition on Monday at a dinner organised in Government House for members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) who are holding their 61st Annual General Conference in Port Harcourt, according to ChannelsTV.
What Governor Wike is saying
The governor said the action of the Federal Government to recommend uniform terms and conditions for the administration of the judicial arm of government in a Federal System of Government prejudices the powers of the federating states to manage its affairs.
Wike said, “I will not sign any law that dictates… I was not appointed, I was elected by the people of the state, and by law, I am the only one that can present the budget to legislators.
“Nobody can force me on how my state would operate.’’
The Governor insisted that Rivers would not enact a bill for financial autonomy of the judiciary, arguing that nobody could dictate to him how to run the state adding that it would be a waste of time to bother the House of Assembly with such a bill since the 1999 Constitution (as amended) already recognises the legal and financial independence of the judiciary.
He said that his administration has been implementing that provision in the constitution religiously.
Wike said the funds he releases for the concurrent expenditure of the judiciary in Rivers State and his intervention in capital projects are far beyond the allocation which is recommended in the Federal Government’s Executive Order 10 which was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2020 to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary across the 36 states of the federation.
Governor Wike also warned against the deduction of Rivers State funds from source, for the judiciary, as recommended in Executive Order 10, stating that he will not sign the recommendations despite the pressure from the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi.
What you should know
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, in May 2020, signed into law, Executive Order No 10 of 2020, cited as the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary Order, 2020.
However, the 36 state governments, who queried the legality of the presidential order, filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court on September 17, 2020.
Recall that the Federal Government told the Supreme Court on October 5, 2021, that it cannot continue to fund state courts, as the apex court reserved judgment on a suit the 36 states of the federation filed to nullify President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 10, which granted financial autonomy to judiciary at the state level.