The Presidential Implementation Committee on autonomy of state legislature and judiciary has called on state governors to implement full autonomy for the two arms of government.
The committee lamented the minimal level of compliance across the states.
Rising from a two- day retreat that ended on Friday, the committee noted that compliance in various states fell short of expectation “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.”
The committee in a 12-point communiqué, therefore, called on the governors “as heads of the Executive Arm of Government to begin full implementation of the financial autonomy granted the legislature and the judiciary.”
It further advised them to adopt the budgeting model being operated at the federal level where the money due to the judiciary and the legislature are captured as first line charge in the budget laid before and passed by the Legislature.
The communiqué signed by the Chairman of the Committee and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the Secretary, Ita Enang and 20 other members of the committee, also recommended that the budget proposal of the legislature and judiciary should be defended before the relevant committees of the legislature.
Other recommendations by the committee include 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 legislatures and the judiciary, and heads of Judicial Service Committee or Commission.
“The 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 be abolished.
“There shall be created a State Allocation Committee comprising the Commissioner of Finance, the Accountant-General of the State, the Clerk of State 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, 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,” among others.
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 honoured more in breach than in compliance” hence the inauguration of the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary (“The Committee) on March, 22.
The committee is to draw up 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.