S’Court voids Executive Order 10, declares Buhari's action illegal.
The Supreme Court, yesterday in Abuja, nullified Executive Order 10 initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari to grant financial autonomy to the State Judiciary and Legislature.
The apex court held that Executive Order 10 was inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution and therefore unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
The judgement followed a suit that was filed by 36 states of the federation. While six Justices upheld the suit, a member of the panel dismissed it.
It will be recalled that President Buhari had in the Executive Order he signed on May 22, 2020, made it mandatory for all states to include allocations of both the Legislature and the Judiciary in their Appropriation Laws, in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).
However, in the suit marked SC/655/2020, which was filed on September 17, 2020, the 36 States, through their Attorneys-General, queried the legality of the Presidential Executive Order 10.
The Plaintiffs posed two legal questions for the Supreme Court to determine, following which they asked for nine reliefs.
They argued that President Buhari, by virtue of the said Executive Order, pushed 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, to the State governments.
They contended that the order was a clear violation of sections 6 and 8(3) of 1999 Constitution, which made it the responsibility of the federal government to fund the listed courts.
The 36 states, which said they had been funding capital projects in the listed courts since 2009, prayed the Supreme Court to order the federal government to make a refund to them, a relief they apex court rejected on Friday.
In a judgment by Justice Muhammed Dattijo in the suit filed by the 36 states against the Federal Government, the court rejected the request of the 36 state governments for an order to compel the Federal Government to take up funding of capital projects for State High Courts, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal.
Although the judgement could not also grant an order sought by the 36 state governors to compel the federal government to pay them N66 billion being an amount they claimed to have so far spent on capital projects for the three courts in their respective states. But the Mohammed Musa Dattijo led panel of judges agreed that, the contentious Executive Order 10 violated the provisions of the 1999 Construction, which clearly stipulates the functions and powers of heads of each arm of the government.
Recalled, the 36 state governors had through their respective Attorneys General and Commissioners for Justice, have dragged the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, before the Supreme Court over the failure of the Federal Government to fund the courts in the country with recurrent expenditure since May 5, 2009.
It would also be recalled that, President Muhammadu Buhari, had in May 2020, signed Executive Order 10, which gave financial autonomy to the legislature and judiciary at the State level.