A former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, on Saturday said state governors have continuously flouted court orders adding that “constitutionally irresponsibility” is one of the reasons the country’s judiciary is on its knees.
Mr Agbakoba spoke at The Platform 2021 tagged ‘Is Devolution of Powers the Solution?,’ a programme facilitated by the The Covenant Church in Lagos.
“I am happy that Kayode Fayemi is on because he is the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, yet they are not obeying the Constitution,” said Mr Agbakoba.
“I went to court, I got two judgments, in respect of financial autonomy, and they are not obeying the orders.
“The state governors have paralysed the judiciary and they are looking for more powers. They haven’t shown me that they are constitutionally responsible because they are not obeying the constitution. The small (power) they have got, they are not obeying it.”
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has been on a nationwide strike since April 6 to press home its demand for financial autonomy. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/455591-striking-judiciary-workers-to-hold-nationwide-protest.html
According to Mr Agbakoba, there is a need to question Nigeria’s existence in view of evaluating the contract.
“The real thing to ask is how do we come together as a country? And I always go back to Bola Ige. Two questions, he asked, do we want to be in a country called Nigeria? It is a very serious question, it is not enough to say Nigeria is indissoluble, no, it is open to question, do we?
“The second question posed by Bola Ige was if we do want to be in a country called Nigeria, by what political arrangement?”
He said Nigeria’s problem is not the Constitution “but the foundation”.
“I think Nigeria’s foundational structures are not strong enough and that is why we see all these crises and challenges, the foundational structures require to be addressed and that is the reason we have so much turmoil and so much tension.
He noted that another person might express a divergent view and say the solution lies in restructuring.
“There are some Nigerians who believe very strongly that the resolution of our problem is to restructure. I take a more soft approach, I don’t like the word restructure for two reasons. First, it is unclear what it means, and the second is the southern argument of restructure debate differs from that of the north.”
Mr Agbakoba, who described devolution of powers as the statutory involvement of powers from the exclusive list and concurrent list, said it makes sense technically “because it advocates decentralisation of power but the big question is will it resolve our problems?
“If the answer is yes, then by all means, I support it. If we took powers from the federal government, handed them to the state, is there a likelihood that the state will pass it on and strengthen the local government? Well, I don’t see that happening.”
The senior lawyer stressed the need for state governors to be accountable while commended the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu, for enacting the Public Accountability and Anti-corruption legislation.
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