Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has said he will not enact a bill for the financial autonomy of the judiciary.
Governor Wike also noted that it would be futile to bother the State Assembly with such a bill since the 1999 constitution already recognises the judiciary’s independence.
Governor Wike made this assertion at the dinner in honour of delegates to the 61st annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, held at the banquet hall, Government House, Port Harcourt on Monday night.
The governor noted that since Nigeria does not practice a unitary system of government, it would be wrong for the Federal Government to issue directives to States on how they should run their affairs.
“Nobody can force me on how my State will operate. Nobody can say send this bill to the legislature for judiciary autonomy.
“The constitution has already guaranteed that the judiciary must be independent, and we have agreed on that.
The governor explained that the State government had released all 2021 capital expenditure due to the judiciary since September.
He challenged the Federal Government to prove it has done the same.
According to him, a Federal Government with decrepit High Court buildings across the country cannot genuinely claim it fully supports financial autonomy for the judiciary.
“Are they giving the judiciary at the federal level the budget they are supposed to have to put the courts in order?”
Governor Wike warned that the Rivers State government would resist any attempt by the Federal Government to deduct funds meant for the State under the guise of implementing financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The governor said the NBA cannot be docile while the Federal Government uses security agencies to intimidate and harass judges. According to him, “when the judiciary is destroyed, the legal profession is gone.”
The President, Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, SAN, commended Governor Wike for his unflinching support for the judiciary and the Bar.
Akpata said Governor Wike’s conscientious support and defence of the judiciary is a pointer to his firm belief that the institution of State should be strengthened.