Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang has charged officials and members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the country to join the struggle towards liberating the state legislatures and judiciaries from the grip of state governors.
He said the NBA was a critical stakeholder in the fight for legislative and judiciary autonomy and should be concerned with why governors were still withholding it.
Senator Ita Enang, LL.D doubles as the Secretary, presidential implementation committee (PIC) on autonomy of the state legislature & judiciary.
Ita Enang was speaking Tuesday during the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference 2021 at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt with the theme: “Taking the Lead”.
Enang addressed the forum on the theme, “Status of Implementation of Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary: Thus Far, How Far on Compliance & Remedy”.
Senator Enang who thanked the NBA for the platform given to him, noted that state governors have opposed the committee’s mandate of implementing President Buhari’s Executive Oder 10.
“Let me appreciate Our ‘Boss,’ Mr. Olumide Akpata, President, Nigerian Bar Association and the leadership of the NBA for inviting me to speak at this year’s Annual General Conference of our profession to give a status update on the implementation of Autonomy at State levels.
“The committee and its mandate was sternly opposed and fought by the Governors but eventually arrived at recommendations which were further stoutly resisted by Governors who are Head of the Executive arm of Government and in illegal control of the State Treasury disbursing at discretion without respect to the entitlement of the other 2 arms of government.
“The recommendations were reduced to Executive Order No. 10 signed and issued by Mr. President setting out the process of implementation and option of getting the sum deducted directly from the account of that States Government at the Federation Account and paid directly to the account of the offended arm of Government where the State fails.
“The Governments of the States failed and refused as expected and after all steps failed we initiated steps at deducting the monies due the State Judiciary from the Federation account.
“Memo went upstairs and the Governors intervened opting for more fruitless time buying dialogue and Mr. President obliged and directed the Chief of Staff to the President to handle”, he said.
Ita Enang listed states of the federation that have enacted the laws with regards to the subject matter and others that have not.
According to him, while Lagos was implementing autonomy under the Constitution on a template left behind by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as then Attorney General under former Governor Tinubu, even without legislation, Bayelsa and Plateau States had both passed the bill and implemeted.
He explained that Rivers State under Governor Nyesom Wike was not only unconcern about it, but was also intimidating the House of Assembly staffers with no-work, no-pay.
Enang continued that while the bill on legislative and judiciary autonomy was pending at Abia, Imo and Taraba State Houses of Assembly, Niger, Katstina, Ebonyi, Adamawa Gombe and Kogi had passed the bills without the governors assenting it.
Ita Enang indicated that Sokoto, Enugu, Jigawa, Kebi, Zamfara, Benue, Yobe, Ekiti, Nassarawa, Ogun and Cross River States had passed the bill with governors’ assent, but without implementation.
In the same list he said were Bauchi, Bornu, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Osun, Ondo, Niger, Kwara, Kano and Kaduna.
Enang stated that the PIC had obtained bank account details of the respective states judiciary and heads of courts in all the states of the Federation, except those that have implemented and would soon commence the process of deduction and direct payment of legislative and judiciary funds from the monthly state allocations.
He reiterated that while President Buhari had long shown examplary leadership by ensuring legislative and judiciary autonomy at the federal level, those of the states must be seen to be done, in compliance with the Constitution and for the purpose of transparency.
“Let me, on behalf of the Committee appreciate the President of NBA, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the deputy and entire leadership of the Bar, and indeed the entire Bar for the solidarity and pressure exerted on this matter.
“We express our greatest appreciation to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for his strong believe in the independence of each arm of Government and the strong support extended to this process since assenting to the Amendment of the Constitution”, he concluded.