The federal government of Nigeria has warned that any state government that withholds the Judiciary or Legislative (State Assembly) funds will get its yearly budget allocation deducted by the Accountant General of the Federation and be given directly to the affected sector.
This came after President Buhari signed the Executive Order on the Judicial and Legislative Financial Autonomy.
Abubakar Malami, the Accountant General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, disclosed this yesterday in the further explanation on the recently signed Executive Order by President Muhammadu Buhari, last week Friday.
The implementation of the law which had earlier been signed last year, was given the commencement effect.
Although, some Governors were reported to be unhappy with this development and the implementation of the Executive Order which was passed by the 8th National Assembly, and the passage of the law was duly assented to by the President, reasons for their unhappiness is best known to them.
The AGF further said that on this matter there will be no going back, because it has become part of the country’s constitution.
Malami believes that the Presidential action would not only strengthen the two arms of state institutions but would also go a long way in making them more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy.
The AGF pointed out that where any state fails to remit the amount meant for the legislature and the judiciary, the OAGF would by the EO authorize the deduction of the amount from the source from the Federation Account by the Accountant General of the Federation.
The AGF said doing so was in compliance with the Article 6 (1) of the EO, which states:
“Notwithstanding the provisions of this EO, in the first three years of its implementation, there shall be a special extraordinary capital allocation for the judiciary to undertake capital development of state judiciary complexes, high court complexes, Sharia court of appeal, Customary court of appeal and court complexes of other courts befitting the status of a court.
“The EO provides that the Accountant General of the Federation shall by this order and such other orders, regulations or guidelines as may be issued by the AGF and Minister of Justice, authorize the deduction from a source in the course of the Federal Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any state of the federation that fails to release allocation meant for the state legislature and judiciary in line with financial autonomy.
When pressed on Sunday for reaction to the EO, Chairman of Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, declined to comment on the development, which some of his colleagues have however frowned on, saying the action would lead to weakening their control of the two arms of government hitherto remotely ‘controlled’ by them through cash release or withholding.
It will be recalled that following the stranglehold on the two tiers of government by the respective governors in the country, a Presidential Committee was raised to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for them in line with the constitution taking into account all other applicable laws, instruments and regulations, which provide for financial autonomy at the state tiers of government.
By: Ayooluwa Joshua