Nigeria: Buhari Signs Order to Implement Financial Autonomy for States' Legislature, Judiciary

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (file photo).
23 May 2020

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja signed an Executive Order for the implementation of financial autonomy for the legislature and the judiciary at the state level.

The new order follows a Presidential Implementation Committee constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for states' Legislature and Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution.

Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution states: "Any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the heads of the courts concerned."

The new order tagged Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 for the implementation of Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary Order, 2020 is aimed at strengthening the financial autonomy of the judiciary and legislature at the state level.

According to a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the new order will further make the two arms more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy.

"The President signed the Executive Order number 10 based on the power vested in him as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended), which extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, laws made by the National Assembly (including but not limited to Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended), which guarantee financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary", Gwandu said.

According to the statement, the Order provides that "The Accountant-General of the Federation shall by this Order and such any other Orders, Regulations or Guidelines as may be issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, authorise the deduction from source in the course of Federation Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any State of the Federation that fails to release allocation meant for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with the financial autonomy guaranteed by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended)".

Gwandu noted that based on the new order, all states of the federation shall include the allocations of the two Arms of Government in their Appropriation Laws.

Article 6 (1) of the order provides that "notwithstanding the provisions of this Executive Order, in the first three years of its implementation, there shall be special extraordinary capital allocations 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 Courts."

You Can't Remove Heads of Govt Agencies without Due Process, SGF Tells Ministers

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, has stopped ministers from removing heads of public agencies in the country without due process.

A procedure for the removal of heads of such agencies was subsequently released by the SGF and sent to all the minsters.

In the circular, Mustapha said the federal government had observed the "arbitrary removal" of chief executive officers (CEOs) and its impact on stability and service delivery.

The circular was issued on Tuesday after the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman sacked Usman Mohammed, as Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

It is unclear if the incident prompted the circular to the ministers.

The SGF stated emphatically that no minister could unilaterally remove CEOs of agencies, adding that the president has approved a disciplinary procedure against erring heads of agencies.

"Accordingly, Mr. President has approved the following streamlined procedure for the discipline of Chief Executive Officers of government parastatals, agencies and departments in accordance with the Public Service Rules (PSR)," he said.

"When an act bordering on serious misconduct against a Chief Executive Officer is reported, it shall be the duty of the supervising minister through the permanent secretary to refer the matter to the governing board for necessary action in line with the relevant provisions of the Establishment Act and the principles guiding Chapters 3 and 16 of the Public Service Rules.

"The board shall in line with due process, issue him/her a query requesting an explanation with respect to the specific act(s) complained about; the board shall forward its findings and recommendations to the minister for further consideration and necessary action.

"The minister, after due consideration of the submission from the board, shall on the advice of the permanent secretary, forward the ministry's position along with the recommendations of the Board and the explanation of the Chief Executive Officer to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for processing to Mr. President for a decision.

"Upon receipt of the submission from the minister, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) shall without delay cause an independent investigation and advice Mr. President on the appropriate course of action."

He added that it is the responsibility of the SGF to advise the president on the next course of action based on the outcome of the final investigation.

"This procedure shall serve as a mandatory guide and all ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and any other public officer in similar supervisory position, are enjoined to strictly abide by its content," Mustapha said.

"For emphasis, on no account shall a Minister of the Federal Republic unilaterally or arbitrarily remove a serving Chief Executive Officer, without recourse to the procedure contained in this Circular."

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