Financial Autonomy fully granted to State House of Assembly and State Judiciary

Financial Autonomy fully granted to State House of Assembly and State Judiciary

The Federal Government has directed governors to release funds meant for State House of Assembly and State Judiciary directly to the two arms of government.

The government said it has abolished warehousing of capital and recurrent budget of the State House of Assembly and Judiciary by governors.

It said, henceforth, budget sum of Judiciary and the Legislature will now be on first line charge.

This directive was based on assent by President Muhammadu Buhari, to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration) in June 2018.

The alteration granted financial autonomy to States’ Legislature and Judiciary.

But the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary has discovered that most governors have not been complying with the amendment to the constitution.

The 22-man implementation committee, headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), however, recommended the enforcement of full compliance by state governors.

Apart from Malami and the Presidential Liaison to the National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, members of the committee were drawn from the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Judiciary, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), the Conference of Speakers and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Rising from a session at the weekend, the committee resolved:

*”to adopt the Budgeting model operating at the Federal level where the sum due to the Judiciary and the Legislature are captured as first line Charge in the Budget laid before and passed by the Legislature;

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*”that the Budget proposal of the Legislature and Judiciary should be defended before the relevant Committees of the Legislature;

*”that the total sum, both Capital and Recurrent, approved in the Annual Budget of the State, be released monthly on a pro–rata basis by the Accountant General of the State, directly to the Heads of the Legislature and the Judiciary, and Heads of Judicial Service Committee or Commission;

*”that the budgeted sum, Capital and Recurrent, howsoever described, be released to the Judiciary to be spent by the Judiciary on the projects, programmes and capital development of the Judiciary, including recruitment and training of personnel. And so for the Legislature;

*”that the current practice in some States where appropriated Recurrent Expenditure due the Judiciary and Legislature in the budget, are released to the Judiciary and Legislature and the Capital components are warehoused in the Executive is hereby abolished;

*”that the Model Budget Template of the Judiciary and Legislature, the strata of line consultations and inter Arms, as well as Inter-Agency pre-budget consultations and front loading as already done in some states, be adopted;

*”that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum is appreciated for its commitment to the implementation of the financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary in Accordance with the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution (as amended);

*”there shall be created a State Allocation Committee comprising the Commissioner for Finance, the Accountant General of the State, the Clerk of the State House of Assembly, the Chief Registrars of High Courts, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Courts, the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission/Committee and the Secretary of the State Assembly Service Commission, if any, for the purpose of determining the amount due to each Arm of Government based on the budgetary provision but subject to the funds available to the State; and

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*”encourage all State Houses of Assembly to pass Funds Management Law or Budget Process Law by whatever name called, as a legal framework that will ensure judicious budgeting and use of funds accrued to the State.”

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