Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Emergency - Anger at President Jonathan's Attempt to Seize Funds

The Proclamation Act of 2013, which vests on President Goodluck Jonathan the power to withhold and administer the funds meant for the three states currently under emergency rule, is drawing flaks from the elected officials of the states, LEADERSHIP Sunday investigation has revealed.

President Jonathan recently declared a state of emergency in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, citing insecurity caused by the activities of Boko Haram.

Consequent upon the declaration and relying on the provisions of Section 3(1) paragraph (d) and (e) of the Proclamation Act 2013, the president is vested with the powers to utilise funds meant for the states and local government areas in the states under the emergency rule, contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

It has been revealed that stakeholders in the affected states would soon be heading for the apex court for interpretation of the provisions of the constitution as regards funds accruing to the states, especially if the president reserves any right whatsoever to either withhold or administer such funds.

LEADERSHIP Sunday findings further revealed that the stakeholders are contending that Section 3 (1) paragraph (d) and (e) of the Proclamation Act 2013 is in conflict with the provisions of Section 162-164 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as these sections of the constitution give the states the right to earn and administer their resources.

"The fundamental question is this: whether having regard to the provision of Section 305(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the president has powers to tamper with the funds meant for the states and the local government areas? More so, the provisions of Section 3(1) (d) and (e) of the Proclamation Act 2013 is inconsistent with the provisions of Section 162 -164 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which deals with state fund. Therefore, the Proclamation Act is unconstitutional, illegal and void to the extent of the inconsistency of the constitution," one of the stakeholders who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday said.

The source maintained that it is unconstitutional for the president to touch any dime meant for the affected states.

"Section 305 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, vests the president with the power to declare state of emergency in any part of the country where there is complete lawlessness. This section vests power on the president where there is security problem. There is nowhere in the constitution where the constitution states explicitly that the president has powers to remove democratically elected governors and/or dissolve democratic structures, hence the existence of democratically elected governors and structures in the three affected states. The governors remain the chief executive officers of their respective states, vested with all constitutional powers to execute their functions," the source further stated.

The source maintained that the president has no power to tamper with funds meant for the states and local governments to fund security operations, as such funds are provided for in the Appropriation Act, as Section 162 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, clarified.

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