Governors of the 19 northern states are seeking constitutional powers that will enable them to create their own Court of Appeal “for the speedy dispensation of justice.”
They said that retired justices should be “appointed to head the National Judicial Council, Federal Judicial Service Commission and the State Judicial Service Commission.”
These are their positions on the constitution review, which they intend to submit to the National Assembly.
The northern governors are also demanding the review of Section 38(1) of the constitution so that the jurisdictions of the Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal is enlarged to accommodate criminal cases.
They said there should be a Federal Judicial System, where the National Judicial Commission would appoint federal judicial officers and the State Judicial Commission will appoint and discipline state judicial officers.
Unlike the recent clamour for the constitution to be amended to find roles for the traditional rulers, the northern governors said there was no reason for that.
They, therefore, said the status quo be maintained and that the traditional institution should rather be recognised under the state law only.
On the devolution of powers, the governors said that “after a careful review of the Exclusive List of the constitution, members resolved that some items be moved to the concurrent list.”
These include finger prints, evidence, designation of securities into which trust fund may be invested, labour, weight and measure and railways.
Others are stamp duties, establishment and regulation of authorities for the federation or any part thereof and drugs and poisons.
The northern governors insist that the immunity clause as enshrined in Section 308(3) of the constitution must be retained.
The governors, at their recent meeting, said they would not support those calling for the removal of the clause in the constitution review going on in the country.
The section reads, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, but subject to subsection (2) of this section:
(a)No civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office;
(b) A person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise; and
(c) No process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued:
Provided that in ascertaining whether any period of limitation has expired for the purposes of any proceedings against a person to whom this section applies, no account shall be taken of his period of office.
(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party.
This section applies to a person holding the office of President or vice-president, governor or deputy governor; and the reference in this section to “period of office” is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.”
The governors, in their communiqué issued and signed by their chairman, who is also the Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, said “the status quo should be maintained.”
The northern governors’ position is supported by their other colleagues in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, who have also insisted that the immunity clause be retained.