THE Supreme Court on Friday declared as unlawful and unconstitutional the Executive Order 10 (EO10) issued by President Muhammadu Buhari on state judiciary and legislature funding.
In a split decision on Friday, majority of the court’s seven-member panel agreed that the president exceeded his constitutional powers in issuing the EO10.
Six out of the seven members of the panel proceeded to void and set aside the EO10.
The majority decision also held that it was not the responsibility of the Federal Government to fund the capital and recurrent expenditures of the superior courts created for states under Section 6 of the Constitution.
All the seven members agreed that the states were not entitled to be refunded all they have spent before now to maintain those courts.
The 36 states governors had in the suit sought an order of the court to compel the Federal Government to fund capital projects for State High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal.
They had also applied for an order of the apex court to compel the Federal Government to pay them N66 billion, which they have so far spent on capital projects for the three courts.
The governors informed the apex court that the three courts were the courts of the Federation, and as such, the funding of their capital project should flow from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 as “The implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary Order, 2020”.
A key provision of the said Executive Order which seeks to enforce financial autonomy of the legislature and judiciary of the states is the power given to the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from the allocations due to states from the Federation Account.
It allows for funds appropriated for the legislature or judiciary of that state to be summed up and released to its legislature or judiciary as the case may be and to pay the funds directly to the state’s legislature or judiciary concerned.
President Buhari had set up a committee headed by Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami in December 2018 to fashion out modalities for the enforcement of section 121(3) of the constitution on the financial independence of the arms of government.
The committee recommended issuing Executive Order 10 as an instrument for the enforcement of the constitutional provision, which Buhari signed in May 2020.
The Order empowers the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from the Federation account the amounts due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation due to the states when the two arms of government do not get what they are entitled to.