Buhari’s Executive Order 10 Will Destroy States – Wike

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has warned that the Federal Government would destroy the criminal justice system in states if the Executive Order 10 is implemented.

Wike said Executive Order 10 which permits the deduction of funds from each state account to finance the judiciary is politically-motivated and geared towards the 2023 general election.

The governor made this assertion in his keynote address presented at the 3rd Annual Nigerian Criminal Law Review Conference organised by the Rule of Law Development Foundation in Abuja on Monday.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on May 25, 2020, signed the Executive Order 10 to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary and Houses of Assembly in states.

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Wike stated that by enacting Executive Order 10, the Federal Government which he said had been hostile to judges “now suddenly wants to lure the judiciary to assume it believes in the independence of the judiciary” ahead of the 2023 general election.

“Independence is not to take resources and preside over award of contract. If you cannot give judgment according to your conscience; if you cannot give judgment according to the law, then there is no independence. And this of course affects the criminal justice system,” Wike stated according to a Monday statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media), Kelvin Ebiri.

Wike further accused the Federal Government of politicising security, saying it would continue to negatively affect the criminal justice system in Nigeria.

He said the prevailing cases of kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery that threatened the very existence and stability of the nation clearly justified the establishment of state or community police.

He observed that while the establishment of state police may require amendment of the extant Section 214(1) of the 1999 Constitution, “the Rivers State Government is of the opinion that community police or Neighbourhood Watch could be established without constitutional amendment”.

“The truth of the matter is that with the current strength of the Nigeria Police Force which stands at about 372000 (Three Hundred and Seventy Two Thousand), the Nigeria Police Force lacks the operational capacity to fulfil its primary or core mandate of crime detection, crime prevention and maintenance of public safety, law and order or protection of lives and property of persons in Nigeria.

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“To put it plainly, the Nigeria Police lacks the operational capacity to police the nation which is a federation of about 923.768km (356.669 sqm) with an estimated population of 195.9 million. It is this stark reality that informs call for establishment of State Police to provide complementary role to the Nigeria Police Force in crime detection, prevention, and maintenance of law and order.”

He explained that it was against this background that the Rivers State Government enacted the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law, No. 8 of 2018 which established the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency as a corporate body and vested with power to establish uniformed Neighbourhood Safety Corps in the 23 Local government Areas of the State and to prescribe regulations guiding the operations of the Safety Corps and any other local government vigilante group in the state.

In furtherance of this law, he stated that recruitment and training of members of the uniformed Neighbourhood Safety Corps commenced at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Nonwa in Tai LGA, after obtaining all necessary approvals from the Nigerian Army and other relevant security agencies.

“But, unfortunately, the exercise was violently disrupted by the Nigerian Army, claiming it was illegal and unconstitutional,” the governor lamented.

Wike said despite a recent court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, the Army has refused to allow it to carry out its recruitment and training of personnel.

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