Judicial Autonomy: Direct Accountant-General To Credit Judiciary Account, Lawyers Tell President Buhari

Lawyers in Nigeria have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to show commitment to his newly signed executive order granting autonomy to states’ judiciary by directing the Accountant-General to credit state judicial accounts across the federation.

Buhari on Friday announced his decision to sign an executive order into law for “the practice of democracy”.

He said, “Based on the power vested in me under Section 5 of the 1999 constitution (as Amended), I, today, signed into law Executive Order 10 of 2020 for the implementation of financial autonomy of state legislature and judiciary.

“This administration will continue to do everything to strengthen the principles and practice of democracy and democratic governance in Nigeria.”

Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN, while reacting to the announcement told SaharaReporters on Friday that even though the order is commendable, it must be implemented to the letter.

“Why had the executive arm of government not thought it fit to grant full autonomy to the judiciary?

“We have the first alteration to the constitution which directed that money meant for the judiciary should be payed from the consolidated revenue account directly to the account of the judiciary.

“So what the President is implementing is that first alteration to the constitution and it is commendable because this will give us total independence for the judiciary being the most stable institution of democracy.

“I also believe its beyond signing an executive order. The president should walk the talk by directing the accountant general of the federation to pay and credit the account of the judiciary from the consolidated revenue fund so that the judges will not be going to the governors cap in hand to beg for funds.

“Whosoever pays the piper, dictates the tune. It is one of the major factors interfering with the independence and autonomy of the judiciary.”

Echoing a similar perspective, rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, told SaharaReporters the order was timely and would serve as a deterrent to state governors, who manipulate justice with state funds.

He said because the court was the last hope of democracy, it was important for the judiciary not to go cap in hand to politicians, who buy things like cars and other facilities for judges with the aim of distorting judgment.

Effiong called on the government to begin immediate implementation of the overdue policy in the interest of justice.

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