In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the constitutional amendments, granting financial autonomy to state legislature and state judiciary.
Also, the president later inaugurated Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary.
Buhari directed the members of the committee to be meticulous and diligent in the discharge of their duties.
He said that the setting up of the committee was necessitated by the realisation that legislative and judicial autonomy were necessary preconditions for nation’s democracy to endure.
According to him, the committee is expected to foster effective implementation of the autonomy constitutionally granted the state legislature and judiciary in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Further to Buhari’s assent, on May 16, Nigerian state governors on the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), expressed their commitment to work with the Federal Government to implement the law.
The then Chairman of NGF, former Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara, said: I align with the motion that the legislature and judiciary autonomy is a necessary precondition for an enduring democracy’’.
The governors observed that the autonomy would ensure that “money due to the judiciary will go to the account of the judiciary directly and money due to the legislature will go to the account of the legislature directly.
“It is intended to ensure that money for the judiciary is not spent on the judiciary or on the judiciary but it is spent by the judiciary for the judiciary and on the judiciary and the same goes for the legislature’’.
Irrespective of the constitutional provision for the independence of the three arms of government and the efforts of the Buhari administration to promote this in governance, the legislature and the judiciary in states are still battling to remain independent, reports have shown.
A survey across the states shows that the judiciary and the legislature still depend on the executive arm of the state government for their survival.
The Speaker of the House of Assembly in Ondo State Bamidele Oleyelogun, said that although the process of becoming autonomous had been initiated, the House had been waiting for Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for final endorsement.
Oloyelogun said that all arrangements had been made and necessary documents required from the legislative arm of government for full implementation of autonomy of the judiciary and the legislature had been submitted to the executive.
Oleyelogun, said “much now depends on the executive arm of government for full implementation’’.
However, a lawyer, Mr Seun Sogbeso, said that state governments had not given both legislative and judiciary arms of government free hand to operate.
Sogbeso said that every government would always want to be in charge of the two arms of government, adding: “it is hard to see the arms of government being free’’.
Similarly, in Ogun, the Speaker of the Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, said that the implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislature had yet to be implemented in the state.
Corroborating Oluomo, the Chairman of the Ogun chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr Olu Alade, admitted that the law had to be put into effect.
In spite of this, he noted that since the constitution had granted autonomy and the president had demonstrated willingness and determination to implement it, autonomy would soon be operational.
In Ekiti State, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Funmiyi Afuye, said that the state was still in the various stages of implementation of the 2018 Act which supported autonomy for the state’s assembly.
Also speaking, the Deputy Chief Registrar of the State High Court, Mr Ariyibi Apuabi, said that the judiciary arm of government in the state had yet to enjoy autonomy.
Apuabi, however, disclosed that a committee had been set up to hasten its implementation for the judiciary.
Reviewing the situation of the implementation, Mr Kayode Martins, the Chairman of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) in Oyo State, accused governors of frustrating the implementation process, adding that a presidential executive order would fast track the process.
He said that the national body of the body was doing everything possible to ensure that the president issues an executive order on autonomy.
In the same vein, the Deputy Majority Leader of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Mr Kunle Akande, admitted that the executive had yet to grant financial autonomy to the assembly.
Akande, however, said that efforts towards the financial autonomy for the assembly had started that would be completed soon.
Lawmakers in Kwara State believe that the legislature has been enjoying autonomy without interference by the executive in its affairs.
The Chairman of Kwara House of Assembly Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Judiciary, AbdulGaniyu Salaudeen, said that the legislature would continue to remain independent to achieve the desired result.
Some lawyers in the state, however, argued that without financial autonomy, no institution or establishment of government could be totally free from interference.
In the North-Central part of the country, reports show that some states, especially, in Benue, Plateau and Kogi, have yet to begin the implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary and the legislature.
However, reports indicate that there is partial implementation of the directive in Nasarawa State and the Niger.
The Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly, Mr Titus Uba, said that the state judiciary and the legislature had yet to be granted autonomy, but that the process had started.
The Chief Registrar, Plateau State Judiciary, Mrs Ladi Madaki, said that the bill or template on the issue had passed second reading at the State House of Assembly.
“Until and unless it is passed in to law by the House, we can’t have a functional and effective independent judiciary,’’ he said.
The Chief Registrar of Kogi High Court, Mr Yahaya Ademu, said: “we are still operating the old system; we are still receiving subventions from the state government. The last we received was that of July salary.
“The problem is from the Federal Government. The committee has submitted its report; we are waiting for the presidential directive. I think that is what is delaying it’’.
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly Clerk, Mr Ego Maikeffi, said that the financial autonomy of the Assembly had yet to begin.
“A bill for a Law to Provide for Self Accounting of the state House of Assembly has been passed by the fifth assembly but was not signed into law by the immediate past governor of the state.
“We have been receiving our monthly subvention that is salary and overhead as we had been doing in the previous years from the executive,’’ he said.
The Chief Judge of Niger State, Mr Aliyu Mayaki, also noted that the state judiciary enjoyed partial financial autonomy.
According to him, the head of courts no longer have to go cap-in-hands to the governor asking him for funds.
He attributed many of the infrastructure development and reform of the state judiciary to the partial autonomy it enjoyed.
In Cross River, the Registrar of the state judiciary Mr Edem Okokon, said: “nothing has been done to actualise the Federal Government’s directives on the implementation of financial autonomy of the judiciary.
“We have yet to receive any document from the Federal Government to that effect, maybe it is due to normal government bureaucracy.’’
Similarly, the immediate past Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Mr Kabiru Adjoto, said: “I can tell you that we enjoyed a substantial level of compliance in Edo, especially as it regards funding.
“The parliament got what it wanted from the government in terms of fund based on budget performance.’’
In his view, the Chairman, Ikorodu Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos State, Mr Bayo Akinlade, said that major issues, including salaries of judges, magistrates and high ranking civil servants as well as building of infrastructure, were still handled by the executive arm.
“There is partial compliance with the law as to the financial autonomy of the judiciary as I observed in Lagos State.
“Monies are still paid into government accounts and go through a lot of bureaucratic structures for release; that is why we have courts with no fans, no air conditioners, bad generators and minimal chairs not sufficient for the lawyers and the litigants to seat,’’ Akinlade said.
A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Tunde Braimoh, noted that there was the need for compliance.
But the Chief Registrar, High Court of Justice, Gombe State, Mr Abdulsalam Jatau,said that financial autonomy had yet to be implemented in the state.
According to him, every requirement of the judiciary is being taken care of by the executive in terms of training, basic office facilities and maintenance of the courts.
He, however, expressed optimism that financial autonomy for the judiciary would help to address some of their challenges.
“The condition of our courts is pathetic, especially area and magistrates’ courts; we will do everything humanly possible to address these problems,’’ he said.
Also, The Acting Chief Register, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar in Yobe State, said: “all judiciary finances come from the executives, meaning they have powers or control over the judiciary,’’
Abubakar added that another major constraint that affected the autonomy of the judiciary was the role the executives played in the appointment of chief judge.
Sharing similar sentiments, the Adamawa branch chairman of Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Alhaji Baba Gurin, said that the judiciary in the state was waiting for the implementation of the autonomy.
Mr Solomon Kumangar, the Director-General, Media and Communication to Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, said that the governor was committed to the autonomy and is working towards that.
The Director of the El-Kanemi Peace and Development Centre, Mr Grema Kyari, observed that there ought to be community advocacy and mobilisation to facilitate successful implementation of the implementation of financial autonomy to state legislature and judiciary.
“Awareness creation on civic right is necessary to stem the undemocratic trend and guarantee autonomy for the legislature,’’ Kyari said.
All in all, Nigerians insist that stakeholders should ensure that the implementation of financial autonomy to state legislature and judiciary is effective to strengthen democracy.
Olaitan is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Igbo Youths Task PDP, APC On Presidency
The umbrella group of youth leaders in the South East geopolitical zone, under the umbrella of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) has said that it is either the presidency for the Zone in 2023 or nothing.
The group emphatically demanded that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should cede the presidency to the South East zone in 2023 at the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The youth coalition warned that refusal of any big political party to zone the presidency to the South East in 2023 simply means swimming against the tide of the curriculum of democracy in Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement issued by the President-General of the group, Chief Goodluck Ibem, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Saturday.
The Coalition warned that those clamouring for the North to take the presidency after eight years of Buhari’s presidency, are not patriotic, but place their personal gain and aggrandisement above the survival, progress and success of the country.
The youth leaders maintained that the zoning arrangement was borne out of doctrine of necessity designed as democracy bond with the sole objective of creating a sense of belonging, harmony, happiness, peace and unity for our dear country Nigeria.
The statement added, “Zoning of the presidency has its moral weight. Zoning of the office of the president to the South East in 2023 is very important to preserve the corporate entity of Nigeria and also calm down political tension.
Police Have Abandoned Duty For Political Thuggery – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kogi State has warned against looming anarchy in the state, saying police authority has left its duty post for political thuggery, intimidation of electorate by the State government and APC.
Deputy Director of Public Communications of the PDP in Kogi State Campaign Council, Austin Usman Okai in a press statement on Sunday said the state Commissioner of Police has refused to stop the rising political thuggery and intimidation of electorate by APC thugs in the state.
Okai alleged that the State Commissioner of Police was giving technical support to the All Progressives Congress, APC, political thugs in the state, which has made them untouchable for security agencies despite glaring evidences of violence against them.
The council called on Police authority, Departments of State Security to call the outgoing governor of Kogi State to order, stating that, “nobody has monopoly of violence but in PDP we believe in peace.”
“No amount of gun importation into Kogi State will make Bello popular, we warned that we will not continue running for help, and we must not be pushed into self defense as that will amount to anarchy, if police failed, we will protect ourselves, the IGP must guarantee our safety as we will not fold our hands and watch some APC government officials intimidate us using police and SARS.
“In Dekina local government, the government officials have contracted some boys whose responsibility is to go after our candidate posters and billboards, the boys are armed in Sienna buses and guns, the police are aware of their activities but decided to look the other sides, while the thugs are boasting they have police and nothing will happen.
Okai also expressed worries over the level of sporadic gunshots across Abejukolo the headquarters of Omala local government area of the state, stressing that activities of the local government administrator, Hon. Aboh in sponsoring thuggery activities against the main opposition party, PDP, under the guise of electioneering campaigns needs to be checked.
He noted that the LG administrator has contracted miscreants fully armed who move in Siena and Sharon buses across the entire local government to create panic, among members of opposition political parties in the area.
“Honourable Aboh is known to be harbouring hoodlums under the cover of vigilante group, but their main mission is to attack the PDP members and their families in the local government.”
He said the decision to start now is to create uneasy calm, instill fears into the electorate and supporters of PDP from the local government under the supervision of the state government.
“This ugly trend has also spread to Olamaboro Local Government where the coordinator of PDP in the local government, Enefola Charles Agada and his family have been harrassed severally, his properties destroyed and other members of the party chased out of the area”.
“This developement is expected to go round the local government as the election draws nearer,not for anything, but to ensure PDP members are chased out of their homes on the instructions of APC leaders who are viewing the election as a war.
He called on security agencies in Kogi to without further delay address the issue of thuggery from the ruling APC government in the state, noting that the APC’s only strategy in winning the election is to instill fear in the minds of the people not to come and vote in next month’s election.
“The APC have devised several means to spread to other local government areas of Kogi East to ensure voters particularly PDP supporters and sympathizers are not allowed to come out to vote.”
Ekiti PDP Disowns Members Urging Boycott Of LG Poll
Ekiti State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), on Sunday, declared its readiness to participate in the forthcoming local government elections scheduled for December 7.
In a statement by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Jackson Adebayo in Ado Ekiti, PDP maintained that there was no amount of shenanigan that would stop the party from its resolve to participate in the election.
This position has also been corroborated by all the 16 Local Government Chairmen of the party in the state as the party threatens to brand members working secretly against its interest as rebels, with appropriate sanctions awaiting them.
The party described its members calling for boycott as fifth columnists working for the ruling APC.
“We are aware of some fifth columnists among us who, perhaps, are working in collaboration with APC to stop PDP from participation in the election due to public opinions that favours us.
“It is not unusual for some members to want to play fifth columnist in any political party, but whenever such action is established, it would be naturally treated as an anti-party activity
“We therefore call on all our members to ignore the ranting of some individuals against our participation in the council election.
“Rather, we should concentrate our energy on strategies that can win the election for us instead of allowing some black agents to plant distractions in the party,’’ he said.
Adebayo, who said that apart from the decision of the State Executive Committee of the Party to participate in the election, the State Working Committee (SWC) had also been up and doing in preparation for the election.
According to him, all necessary forms had been obtained by candidates while the party has concluded all documentation at the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) and only waiting for substitution if any need arises.
The PDP spokesman also explained that the party had put some mechanisms in place to ensure unity in the party which informed why imposition of any form was not allowed in the primaries of the candidates of the party.
The PDP state Chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase, in an interview confirmed the stand of the party.
“The position of the extended EXCO and the SWC, with all party chairmen of all the local governments remains same.
“We met and we discussed extensively on what the PDP should do concerning the local government election.
“We all resolved that, in the overriding interest of the party, so that there will be activity in the party, so that Ekiti people will have option, so that the fundamental provision of the constitution that we all have right to vote and be voted for would not be blotted out by unnecessary emotions and sabotage, we should participate in the elections.
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