Daniel Bwala, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has accused state governors of disregarding Presidential Executive Order 10, which he said gives expression to the constitutionally guaranteed financial autonomy of the judiciary.
Bwala, who is a lawyer, slammed the governors for their hypocritical attitude towards restructuring, describing them as lazy, selfish and only concerned about their personal issues.
According to Vanguard, the APC chieftain said this on The Morning Show on Arise TV on Friday.
The state governors had said while they were not opposed to the Executive Order Number 10 as signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last year, they would not be stampeded into abiding by it in their relationship with the judicial arm of government in their various states.
Consequently, the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had been on strike in several states of the federation for about two weeks, with court activities grounded.
“The Executive Order 10 as couched can, literally, create a bit of confusion because of the mixture of two things, for example the preamble up to the first order, I believe is constitutional and is pursuant to the provisions of the constitution if you look at Section 5.
“But, from Number 2 of the Executive Order that runs down, they are matters that can be debated because they look like directing the states, and if it is so, it must be by an Act of the National Assembly because if the President proceeds on that, then it will amount to what we call Executive-Legislation”, Bwala said.
He berated the governors for saying they were waiting for the President to return to the country from his medical check-up abroad, so they could find a political solution to the issue.
He accused the governors of working against restructuring in the country.
“They know for a fact that if they take on the president directly to the Supreme Court for interpretation, if the court interprets in favour of the federal government, they have completely lost their powers as far as the judiciary and legislature are concerned, forever. They would rather that they find a political solution.
“And in my view, they are able of cowing the president into conceding to say ‘okay, let’s see how we can implement it’. I advise the president to insist on implementation and that they can sue his federal government to the Supreme Court if they do not want to implement the Order.
“This autonomy we are talking about is to the lawmakers and to the judiciary in the states the same way it has been replicated at the federal level. And, what is restructuring? These are ingredients of restructuring that the governors have clamoured for. You cannot approbate and reprobate. You cannot be asking for devolution of powers when you cannot concede powers within your level.
“Apart from Section 251 of the constitution which provides for a federal high court jurisdiction on matters that affect the government of the Federation, all other matters not covered by that section are within the wider powers of the state High Courts. And, how can the state high courts continue to dispense justice without the influence of the governors when their finances are being controlled?
“Sometimes you watch the television and governors will give cars to judges and parade the judges like criminals. These are money that should have gone to the judiciary direct and they determine the application. Have you seen where state assemblies stand up to their governors in the last 10 years? Is that the restructuring we are talking about?
“Restructuring is when the arms and instruments of government are empowered to operate independent of the other and if the governors cannot support this, then I do not think the governors should have the audacity and temerity to bring about the issue of devolution of powers at the federal level. “How can you appropriate money for the judiciary and then continue to use the money for them? Sometimes they don’t even see it,” he stated.