The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) can authorise the deduction from source in the course of Federation accounts allocation from the money allocated to any State 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.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in the Executive Order 10, which he had signed last week said the Accountant-General of the Federation shall deduct from source allocations meant for the state legislature and state judiciary, based on the Executive Order 10 and any other orders, regulations or guidelines by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The Presidential Executive Order No. 00-10 of 2020, according to Buhari, will ensure financial autonomy for state legislature and state judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).
The order, which was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last week, took into considerations all other applicable laws, instruments, conventions and regulations, which provides for financial autonomy at the State tier of Government.
According to the President, the implementation of the financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary will strengthen the institutions at the state tier of government and make them more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy as enshrined by the Constitution.
Buhari said, the signing of the executive order was part of the power vested upon him under Section 5 of the Constitution, 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, which guarantee financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary.
The President stated that every State Government shall set up a Committee from the commencement of the Executive Order. The committee shall comprise of, the Commissioner of Finance, Accountant-General of the State, representative of the State Budget Office, Chief Registrars of State High Court, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Court of Appeal, (where applicable), the Clerk to the State House of Assembly and the Secretary of the State Judicial Service Committee or Commission.
The Committee, he said shall be given and accorded legal recognition in the various relevant appropriation or Funds Management Laws of the States.
For the purpose of Appropriation to the State Judiciary, each State Judiciary shall set up a State Judiciary Budget Committee to serve as an administrative body to prepare, administer and implement the budget of the State Judiciary with such modifications as may be required to meet the needs of the State Judiciary.
The Committee shall consist of the State Chief Judge as the Chairman with the Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, the President, Customary Court of Appeal, where applicable and two members of the Judicial Service Committee or Judicial Service Commission to be appointed by the Chief Judge, in consultation with other members of the committee, to serve as Members, while the Chief Registrar of the State High Court is to serve as Secretary of the committee.
To the extent as may be permitted by law, the Accountant-General of the Federation shall take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Order and implementation of the recommendations of the Committee, as may from time to time be made.
This order shall be implemented consistently with states applicable laws that guarantee financial autonomy of state legislature and state judiciary and subject to the availability of funds.
The modalities for budget preparations and implementation shall include but not limited to the following, “Upon the receipt of the budget estimates of the Fiscal Year for the State Judiciary, the State Judiciary Budget Committee shall invite all the Accounting Officers of the various Courts/Judicial Bodies to defend their budget estimates
“The budget estimates for Courts and Judicial bodies shall be based on expenditure line items given to them by the State Judiciary Budget Committee which shall be defended before the State House of Assembly and upon the appropriation of Funds, the State Judiciary Budget Committee shall, on a monthly basis or as the case may be, request the Budget Office of the State to release the statutory allocation for the quarter or monthly and the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) shall be raised by the Office of the Accountant-General of the State for the release of the Fund to all the Heads of Courts/Judicial Bodies in line with the Appropriation Law.”
Without prejudice to any existing budget templates in force in any state of the federation, the State Legislature and State Judiciary shall continue to maintain the strata of line consultations, inter Arms, and inter-Agency pre-budget consultations and frontloading as is done in some states.
The budget templates and models in the schedule to this Executive Order shall apply to State Legislature and State Judiciary with modifications, in compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution and such other applicable Laws.
At the commencement of the Order for implementation of financial autonomy for State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the President said, all States of the Federation shall include the allocations of the two Arms of Government in their Appropriation Laws.
Where Appropriation Law exists in any State before the commencement and implementation of the Order, such States shall amend their Appropriation Law to encompass financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary as the Order expects States without Appropriation Law on the financial autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary to do so.
“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 court.
“Subject to section 8(1) of this Order, implementation of the provisions of this Order shall be carried out by the Presidential Implementation Committee in accordance with its recommendations”, the President stated.
This Order, which took effect from May 20, 2020 may be cited as the Implementation of Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary Order, 2020.