…Abolishes warehousing of Capital project fund by executive
…Asks States to create allocation committee
Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
As stakeholders intensified calls for the full implementation of financial autonomy of states legislature and judiciary, all the state governments in Nigeria have been advised to adopt the budgeting model being operated at the Federal level where the sum due to the Judiciary and the Legislature are captured as first line Charge in the annual budget laid before and passed by the Legislature.
The call was made by the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary in a communiqué issued at the end of a two -day retreat held in Abuja and signed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and PIC Chairman, Abubakar Malami, Senator Ita Enang, Presidential Liaison to the National Assembly (Senate), Secretary, (PIC) and twenty other members.
The Daily Times recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had in March 22, 2019 inaugurated the committee to fashion out a workable national strategy for the implementation of financial autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary in accordance with the provisions of Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration) whereby funds appropriated to these two tiers of governments at the state level, are released to them directly.
Accordingly, the committee noted that there were various levels of minimal compliance in various states but all fall short of the expected compliance, as Budget performance across 36 States of the Federation show that the least allocations to the State Judiciary in the past three years was 0.6 percent of the budget of the entire State, whilst the highest allocation was 4.89 percent.
Governors, being the Heads of the Executive Arm of Government, were urged to begin full implementation of the financial autonomy granted the Legislature and the Judiciary.
The Committee said that the budget proposal of the Legislature and Judiciary should be defended before the relevant Committees of the Legislature; adding that the total sum, both Capital and Recurrent, approved 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.
It added 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 same applied to the Legislature.
The committee declared 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.
According to the presidential committee, 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.
The committee expressed its appreciation to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum 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).
However, the Presidential committee called for the establishment of a State Allocation Committee comprising the Commissioner of 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.
The retirement benefit and pensions of judicial officers of Superior Courts of records in the State should be paid by the National Judicial Council as they receive their salaries and allowances from the NJC while in office, the committee stated.
It therefore, encouraged 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.
The retreat was declared open by His Lordship, Hon. Justice (Dr.) Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, who was represented by the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute, Hon. Justice Rosaline Bozimo (rtd) and was attended by a cross section of stakeholders from the Legislature, Judiciary, Representatives of Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, Representatives of Parliamentary Staff Union of Nigeria (PASAN), and Civil Society Organisations, among others.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, was represented by Mr. Tayo Akpata, Solicitor –General and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice.
Goodwill messages were delivered by Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker House of Representatives, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President, H.E Abdul – Aziz Yari, Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum represented by H.E. M. A. Abubakar, Bauchi State Governor, and Dr. Clement Nkwankwo, Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).
The Secretary of the Committee, Senator (Dr.) Ita Enang, delivered the welcome address, on behalf of the Chairman.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the bold step in signing into law the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration) and for inaugurating the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary as a clear demonstration of his commitment to give effect to the financial autonomy of the Legislature and the Judiciary at the State level.