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President Muhammadu Buhari

The Presidential Implementation Committee on autonomy of state legislature and judiciary has tasked state governors on full implementation of autonomy for the two arms of government.

This is contained in a 12 point communique issued at the end a two-day retreat in Abuja on Friday.

The communique was signed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Chairman of the committee, the Secretary, Sen. Ita Enang and 20 other members of the committee.

The committee noted that following the assent by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration) in June 2018, granting financial autonomy to state legislatures and judiciary, it was observed that it was honored more in breach than in compliance.

“As a result, President Muhammadu Buhari, inaugurated a Presidential Implementation Committee on the Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary (“The Committee) on March, 22.

“The committee is 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.

“This is to ensure that funds appropriated to these two tiers of Governments at the State level, are released to them directly.

“Upon inauguration, the committee adopted its work plan and held a number of technical meetings, sub-committee meetings, strategic consultations among others which culminated into the 2-Day Retreat.

“The retreat was to provide a broad based platform for stakeholders to brainstorm and articulate an effective national strategy for the implementation of autonomy of States’ Legislature and Judiciary,” it noted.

The Retreat 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), Civil Society Organisations, among others.

They commended President Muhammadu Buhari, for the bold step in signing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration) into law.

The stakeholders also commended the president for inaugurating the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary.

They noted that the move was a clear demonstration of his commitment to give effect to the financial autonomy of the legislature and the judiciary at the state level.

“There are 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 while the least allocations to state judiciary in the past three years was 0.6 per cent of the state budgets, the entire allocation was 4.89 per cent.

”We therefore urge the governors as heads of the Executive Arm of Government to begin full implementation of the financial autonomy granted the legislature and the judiciary.

“The should equally 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.

”Meanwhile, the budget proposal of the legislature and judiciary should be defended before the relevant committees of the legislature.

“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 legislatures and the judiciary, and heads of Judicial Service Committee or Commission.

“The budgeted sum, Capital and Recurrent howsoever describe 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,” it stated.

The communique further stated that ”current practice in some states where appropriated recurrent expenditure due the judiciary and legislature in the budget, were released to the judiciary and legislature and the capital components are warehoused in the Executive was abolished.

The communiqué noted that 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 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 of Finance, the Accountant General of the State, the Clerk ofState House of Assembly, Chief Registrars of High Courts, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Courts, Secretary of Judicial Service Commission/Committee and Secretary of State Assembly Service Commission if any.

”This is 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;

“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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