The 36 states of the federation have approached the supreme court seeking to quash the presidential executive order No. 00-10 of 2020 which mandates state governments to fund the judiciary.
President Muhammadu Buhari on May 22 signed the order granting financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary in the 36 states of the federation.
The order empowered the accountant-general of the federation to deduct funds for the state legislature and the judiciary from the federal allocations to the states.
“Based on this order, where any state of the federation fails to release allocations meant for the state legislature and state judiciary, the accountant-general of the federation shall authorise deduction of the money from source,” the order read.
In the suit file by their respective attorneys-general, the states are contending the constitutionality of the executive order.
Leading a team of lawyers on behalf of the states, Augustine Alegeh, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said with the executive order signed by the president, the federal government’s responsibility of funding both the capital and recurrent expenditures of the state high courts, sharia court of appeal and the customary court of appeal has been pushed to the state governments.
He said the order violates sections six and eight (three) of the 1999 constitution which put the responsibility of funding the courts on the federal government.
Alegeh also said the 36 states have been funding the capital projects in the listed courts since 2009.
He asked the apex court to make an order compelling the federal government to refund the money spent by the states since 2009.
“Since the 5th of May 2009, the defendant had not funded the capital and recurrent expenditures of the state high courts, sharia court of appeal and the customary court of appeal of the plaintiffs’ states, apart from paying only the salaries of the judicial officers of the said courts,” the lawyer said.
“The plaintiffs’ states have been solely responsible for funding the capital and recurrent expenditures of the state high courts, Sharia Court of Appeal and the Customary Court of Appeal of the plaintiffs’ states, which the defendant has failed and/or refused to funds.”
Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, is the sole respondent in the suit representing the federal government.