Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu Esq. is the Attorney General of Jigawa State. He was called to the Bar in 2004. A former vice chairman of the NBA, Kano branch, Aliyu in this interview speaks on the Supreme Court decision on Executive Order 10, Jigawa State, the death penalty and sundry issues. Excerpt:
The Supreme Court recently delivered judgment on Executive Order 10, what next?
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The Supreme Court has interpreted the way and manner the finances of the judiciary should be made. The finance of capital and recurrent expenditure of a state is squarely the responsibility of the state. Jigawa State has passed the fund management law since 2017. The Supreme Court only interpreted the law, it is now for us in the states to look at our various finance management laws in the country.
Some of the states were not against the order. Is Jigawa State one of such states?
If you check the states that have passed sound management laws, you will find out that Jigawa is one of them. We have been regulating how money is managed. So Jigawa is one of the states that ensures that what is due to the judiciary is given to them.
So, are you saying that we do not need any constitutional amendment again to enforce EO10?
You don’t need that EO10 now because if you look at that constitutional provision that the Supreme Court interpreted, it said we are operating a federal system. Also, if you look at Section 80 of the Constitution and sections 81, 120, and 121 of the constitution, you will see how they provide the way and manner the finance of the judiciary is to be paid which does not need EO10. In the whole world, the issue of the finance of the judiciary is an issue of engagement.
It is not only in Nigeria. If you go to the UK and the USA, there are issues here and there hence it is for the arms of government to come together to see how things will be done in the overall interest of the country.
Are you looking at a political solution?
There are already engagements within the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), the attorney generals of the states, and the key stakeholders who are to come out and discuss how it will be done. Makers of the constitution sometimes might not see what is practically on the ground when you come to apply it. The constitution might say something but when you come to apply it, you find out that there are issues. If you remember before Amaechi’s case, the constitution says that if an administrative panel of inquiry indicts someone you cannot come out to contest an election depending on who empanels the body but the Supreme Court says that when you allow this sort of thing you are usurping the powers of the judiciary. Then there will be a problem which will affect the independence of the judiciary. If you look at it that is what the law says but if you apply it there might be some issues at the end of the day.
In the past judges were respected but today, has the bench been able to live up to expectations?
The bench in Nigeria is respected and our judges are okay but like in any area, you will find some people who have issues there. If you take the overall view, our judges are well respected. However, if you compare our judges in the 70s to the late 90s, ie the golden era, you cannot compare the calibre of judges to be the same but still we have fine judges in Nigeria.
In Jigawa State how do you give the indigent access to justice?
First, the Jigawa State Government makes sure that the indigent has access to basic things. The Jigawa State Ministry of Justice has a department of citizens’ rights. Any indigent person who has an issue can approach the department for support. Secondly, we have free legal service to indigent and thirdly, we encourage private lawyers to take up pro bono cases. We try to educate people to understand their rights because we partner with some donors to support the indigent.
Should the death penalty be abolished?
The death penalty should not be abolished and the reason is that if someone kills another person he should be killed while due process of law is followed. Life is sacred and nobody has the right to kill. In the case of rape, now in Jigawa State anyone caught is sentenced to death, it is like you committed armed robbery.
Would you allow life to be taken even with our imperfect criminal justice system?
I agree that the system is not perfect even in advanced countries. That is why there are opportunities to appeal even up to the apex court.
Should traditional rulers be given constitutional roles?
They should be asked whether they want constitutional roles. If giving them constitutional roles will help to improve governance in Nigeria, why not? So be it.