The Federal Government will this week gazette the Executive Order No.10 recently signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for the enforcement of the financial autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
Our correspondent also gathered that the Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, will have the gazette served on the Accountant General of the Federation, and others as soon as it is issued.
There have been media reports of plans by state governors to meet with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), over the implementation of the Executive Order.
Buhari had on May 22, 2020 signed the Executive Order for the implementation of the provision of Section 121(3) of the Constitution which was altered in 2018 to provide that any amount standing to the credit of the state judiciary and legislature in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state must be paid to the heads of the institutions.
In the event of failure of any state government to release the allocations due to the state’s legislature or judiciary, the Executive Order empowers the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct the allocation from source and pay it to the legislature and the judiciary.
Presidential Executive Orders are usually published in the Federal Government’s gazette which is the government’s official public notice publications of new appointments, among other newly issued legal instruments.
But our correspondent gathered that the Executive Order 10 has yet to be published in the gazette because of the COVID-19 restrictions which has limited operations of government offices to certain days of the week and some categories of officials.
When contacted on Saturday, the Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Attorney General of the Federation, Dr. Umar Gwandu, confirmed that the publication of the Executive Order in the gazette had been delayed by the COVID-19 restrictions.
“The Executive Order will be published in the gazette soon, probably before Wednesday,” he said.
According to Gwandu, for ease of reference to the Executive Order by the implementation authorities, the gazette once issued would be served on all the stakeholders.
He said, those to be served with the Executive Order include heads of courts, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the Chief Judges of the state High Courts, among others.
“It will also be served on all the members of the Presidential Implementation Committee of the Executive Order 10, the Account-General of the Federation, and all state governors,” he added.
It was also learnt that copies of the gazette would be sent to the state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly.
State governors had refused to comply with constitutional provisions and court judgments which had compelled them to respect the financial autonomy of the judiciary at the state level.
But following the amendment of Section 121 (3) of the Constitution, through the Constitution Alteration Act No 4 of 2017, which put the budgets of the state judiciary and the legislature on first line charge, the President had set up a committee headed by Malami to fashion out the modalities of the implementation of the constitutional provision.
Under Article 6 of the EO 10, the President directed that in implementing Section 121(3) of the Constitution, the allocations of both the state legislature and the judiciary must be included in the state’s appropriation laws.
He also asked that states with existing Appropriation Laws must amend them to encompass financial autonomy of state legislature and state judiciary and those without such laws must do so.
It also provides that notwithstanding the provisions of this Executive Order, “in the first three years of its implementation, there shall be special extraordinary capital allocations for the Judiciary to undertake capital development of State Judiciary Complexes, High Court Complexes, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of Appeal and Court Complexes of other Courts befitting the status of a Courts.”
It also asked the state judiciaries to set up “a State Judiciary Budget Committee” to serve as “an administrative body to prepare, administer and implement the budget of the state judiciary with such modifications as may be required to meet the needs of the state judiciary.”