The federal government has warned that any state government which withholds funds meant for their respective Houses of Assembly and judiciary would get their allocations deducted at source by the Accountant General of the Federation and remitted directly to the affected state organs.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, made the clarification yesterday in further explanation of the Executive Order signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday, giving effect to the commencement of the implementation of the law which he had earlier signed into law last year.
Although some governors are reported to be unhappy with the implementation of the Executive Order, which was passed by the 8th National Assembly and duly assented to by the President, the AGF explained that there was no going back on the matter which had 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 (Executive Order) authorize the deduction of the amount from 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 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 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 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.