28 November 2018

Judiciary: Reps Seek Release Of Funds By Executive

The House of Representatives on Tuesday called on the Buhari administration to direct the finance minister to release all outstanding funds due to the judiciary as contained in the 2018 appropriation Act.
Aminu Shehu Shagari (PDP, Sokoto), caused the adoption of the resolution following the consideration of a motion entitled: “Refusal of the minister of finance to release funds standing to the credit of the judiciary”.
Shagari, while presenting his motion stated that the funding of the judiciary is on first line charge as stipulated in section 81(3) of the 1999 constitution.
He argued saying: “Any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the consolidated revenue fund of the Federation shall be paid and disbursed directly to the National Judiciary Council for disbursement to the heads of courts established for the Federation and the states.”
In his opinion, the essence of the above provision was to guarantee financial and administrative independence of the judiciary, “thereby insulating it from interference and control by any other arm of government”.
The lawmaker who chairs the house judicial committee further disclosed that N110billion was approved in the 2018 appropriation Act as against the sum of N100billion which was proposed.
According to him, the house committee on the federal judiciary in the exercise of its oversight powers visited courts and judicial bodies on November 7 and 8, 2018 in an attempt to ascertain the extent of implementation of the 2018 budget.
“In the report made available to the committee, the minister of finance who is the functionary of the executive arm of government has been withholding funds standing to the credit of the judiciary as at when due,” he quoted the committee’s report as alleging.
Shagari argued that withholding of funds to the judiciary by the executive may disrupt the efficiency of the judicial arm of government, stressing that the action will place in jeopardy the judiciary’s financial obligations to both serving and retired judicial officers, as well as contractual agreements.
The motion enjoyed the unanimous support of members present when put to a voice vote by the presiding speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
The house, therefore, mandated its committees on federal judiciary, federal capital territory judiciary and finance to ensure compliance and report back within one week for further legislative action.
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