Ekiti State governor and chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has described as erroneous the belief among some Nigerians that state governors are opposed to legislative and judicial autonomy.
Fayemi said there is a certain notion out there that governors are opposed to judicial and legislative autonomy.
According to him, “It’s a false notion. We are not opposed to it; we have done everything to support it. Many of our states have even started implementing it long before Executive Order 10 came to the fore.
“And the position we’ve consistently taken is not so much opposed to judicial and legislative autonomy, but opposed to Executive Order 10 as a vehicle for achieving judicial and legislative autonomy. That has been the bone of contention, and a lot of that has also revolved around the modalities for implementing judicial autonomy.”
Wike spoke on Tuesday night during the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President’s Dinner in honour of delegates to the 61st annual conference of the association in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He said almost all the states of the federation have enacted legislation on financial autonomy for the judiciary, and implementation has started in some of the States.
Fayemi noted that the issue of financial autonomy has been controversial in regards to who is responsible for capital funding and expenditure of the courts. According to him, the NGF is already seeking legal clarification on the matter.
Speaking on security, the NGF Chairman said though states have been at the forefront of supporting the law enforcement institutions, they insist on the need for multi-level policing that should keep the federal police, but should also allow in the Constitution, State police.
He said in June 2020, the NGF declared a state of emergency on gender based violence. And since then, 30 states have enacted legislation on Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, while the remaining 6 states are in the process of finalising their own legislation.
Fayemi commended Wike, who he described as an enigma, defender of the defenceless, for sponsoring and hosting the 61st annual conference of the NBA.
Also at the event, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike called on the federal government to stop using security agencies to intimidate and influence judges if it truly believes in independence of the judiciary.
The governor accused the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government of using the issue of financial autonomy to ingratiate themselves with the judiciary after years of obvious frosty relationship between them.
He reiterated his disagreement with the stance of the federal government and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on the issue of financial autonomy for the judiciary.
Wike said, “Confining autonomy for the judiciary to finance alone is antithetical to the concept of independence of the judiciary.”
The governor contended that it was disingenuous for the federal government that uses security agencies to bully judges, to direct states to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The NBA president, Olumide Akpata (SAN) said Nigeria is passing through a difficult period in her history, and that is why the Bar decided to devote the week to seek possible solutions to some of these challenges.