The Attorneys-General of the 36 states of the federation have altogether filed a suit at the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of the Presidential Executive Order 10 issued last year for the financial independence of state judiciaries and legislatures.
In the suit, it challenges that the executive order which states that states are to fund their courts, the plaintiffs argue that it is the constitutional duty of the federal government to fund the capital and recurrent expenditures of states’ High Courts, as well as their Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal, arguing that the Executive Order violated the Nigerian constitution by seeking to compel state governments to fund the recurrent and capital expenditures of state courts, which according to them ought to be that of the federal government.
The Executive Order empowers the Accountant-General of the Federation to make deductions meant for state judiciaries from the state governments’ allocations and pay them to the National Judicial Council (NJC), which will then remit the deducted funds to the heads of the various state courts.
This, the plaintiffs argue, is against the provisions of sections 6(5), 81(3) and item 21(3) of the Third Schedule of the Nigerian constitution. The plaintiffs asked the court to not only declare the Executive Order 10 unconstitutional, but to also order the federal government to “fund the capital and recurrent expenditure” of the state courts.
The Supreme Court has of today now reserved judgment in the suit. A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad, after listening to arguments from lawyers to parties, said they would be informed when the judgment was ready. Beside lawyers to parties, the Supreme Court also took presentations from five amici curiae (friends of the court), who were invited by the court to assist with their legal opinions in the issues in contention.