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How Nigerian governors crippled judiciary – Agbakoba

... Says restructuring will fail without mental shift among political actors

Olisa Agbakoba, a former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Saturday accused state governors of constantly disobeying court orders, saying that the trend has significantly contributed to why the nation judiciary was on its knees.

Recall that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has been on a nationwide strike since April 6 to press home their demand for financial autonomy. The strike has led to the shutting of courts across the country.

Agbakoba spoke at The Platform 2021 tagged, ‘Is Devolution of Powers the Solution?,’ a programme facilitated by the The Covenant Church in Lagos.

The SAN said the governors had refused to obey an order he got on financial autonomy for the Judiciary, adding that there was no justification for them to seek more powers when they had misused the one they had.

“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,” Agbakoba said.

Speaking further, he said devolution of powers may not solve the country’s problems, but that there was need for foundational change, while political actors need to change their perception on power and public office.

Though, he also said there was the need to review the contract that bind the country together, but added that poverty was the biggest problem facing Nigeria now which equally requires urgent attention.

He stressed that though devolution of powers from the exclusive list to the concurrent list may be a good move, there was no evident that it would solve the nation’s numerous challenges.

According to him,”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.

“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.”

“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,” he said.

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