26 States Delay Judicial, Legislative Autonomy Laws, 54 Days After Deadline
No fewer than 26 states were yet to enact laws for the implementation of the financial autonomy for the state legislatures and judiciaries, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
This is coming exactly 54 days after the expiration of the 45-day deadline reached in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by the 36 state governors and the leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) for the implementation of the financial autonomy for the two arms of the government.
Investigation revealed that while some state assemblies have passed the relevant bills, the governors of the affected states have not assented to these bills for implementation.
The states include: Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Osun, Oyo, Benue, Niger, Kebbi, Kwara, Taraba, Nasarawa, and Akwa Ibom.
While states such as Edo, Kaduna, Kano, and Imo have not even prepared the bills, the bills are at various stages at the state houses of assemblies in other states.
However, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa; Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, as well as Governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Ben Ayade of Cross River State have signed the bills, for the implementation of the financial autonomy of the two arms of government.
THISDAY gathered that following the expiration of the 45-day deadline, the committee set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to monitor the implementation has written the 36 state Chief Judges (CJs) demanding the status of implementation in their respective states.
The five-member committee appointed by the NJC to ensure that the governors did not renege on the agreement includes President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olumide Akpata; a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Emir of Lafia in Nasarawa State, Justice Sidi Bage (Chairman); President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip; Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Onuoha Ogwe; and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Muiz Banire.
Of the 36 states, only Lagos, Rivers and Bayelsa claimed that they have started the full implementation while Plateau State has commenced partial implementation.
But the Deputy President of JUSUN, Mr. Emmanuel Abisoye told THISDAY at the weekend that the 45 days had expired with only a few states enacting the laws.
He, however, said that none of the states has implemented the financial autonomy fully as agreed by the parties.
“We are going to meet to review the situation after we must have received the feedback from the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the status of implementation of the financial autonomy agreement,” he said.
Abisoye explained that after the agreement was signed with the state governors at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the NJC had set up a committee to monitor the compliance by states.
“As I speak to you now, not every state has passed that Bill into law – the law that will establish the Fund Management Committee, which is to handle the disbursement of revenue accruing to the state to the various arms of government.
“Only a few states have done that. So, we are still gathering the information on the number of states that have complied with that. While in some of the states, the Bill is at the stage of passage by the State House of Assembly but not yet signed into law, a state like Ekiti has signed the bill into law,” he said.
The JUSUN scribe said that at the moment, the union is waiting to get the report of the NJC’s monitoring committee before it can decide on the next line of action.
“As of now, the NJC has written letters to all the state Chief Judges (CJs) and copied the state chairmen of JUSUN. The content of the letter is that they should furnish the NJC with information on the progress being made by the respective states on the implementation of the financial autonomy agreement,” he added
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Fayemi and his deputy, Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal had put their pen on paper on behalf of the 36 state governors on the historic agreement reached on May 20, to bring to an end a two-month industrial action embarked upon by JUSUN and PASAN.
The agreement, which was prepared on May 20 but signed on June 5, stipulates that all the states shall enact laws for the implementation of the financial autonomy of their judiciaries and legislatures, within 45 days of the signing of the agreement.
The 45 days expired on July 20, exactly 54 days ago.
Before the judicial workers embarked on the strike, President Muhammadu Buhari had issued Executive Order 10 for the implementation of this autonomy as enshrined in the Constitutions but the states defied the order.
However, Lagos, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Plateau states claimed they had started the implementation of the financial autonomy.
Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ayabaina Duba, told THISDAY at the weekend that the implementation of the financial autonomy started during the administration of the late Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Chairman of the Plateau State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Hon. Peter Dasun told THISDAY at the weekend that the law had been enacted, while implementation had also commenced.
But the state Chairman of JUSUN, Mr. Philip Longji told THISDAY that: “Full implementation has not begun. What we have now is partial implementation.”
In Ekiti State, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Funminiyi Afuye told THISDAY that Governor Fayemi had signed the Judicial and the Legislative Funds Management bills into laws to prepare propitious grounds for financial autonomy for the two arms.
Governor Okowa of Delta State has also signed into law the financial autonomy bills for the state legislature and the judiciary.
In Cross River State, the House of Assembly passed the Judiciary Funds Management Bill 2021, and the Legislature Funds Management Bill 2021 in the first week of July, while Governor Ayade signed the bills last week.
In Niger State, the lawmakers have passed the State Assembly Service Commission Bill, the Judiciary Fund Management Bill, and the Assembly Fund Management Bill but Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has not given his assent.
The Clerk of the House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdullahi Kagara confirmed the passage of the bills to THISDAY.
In Kebbi State, the Chairman of JUSUN, Comrade Umar Bawa told THISDAY that the state governor, Mr. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has not signed the bill passed by the state lawmakers.
The Oyo State House of Assembly has also passed the Oyo State Judiciary and Oyo State House of Assembly Funds Management Bills, 2021, on July 15 but Governor Seyi Makinde has not signed the bills.
The Clerk of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Mr. Pius Udoh also told THISDAY at the weekend that the lawmakers have signed the bill, and are awaiting the assent of the state Governor Willie Obiano.
Also speaking on the issue, the Kwara State branch Chairman of JUSUN, Mr. Ibrahim Sambo told THISDAY that the bill was still before the state House of Assembly.
The Chairman of Enugu State House of Assembly’s Committee on Information, Hon. Jeff Mba told THISDAY at the weekend that the lawmakers had prepared the necessary legislation and were awaiting the state government to set up the necessary commission for implementation.
Ebonyi State chapter of JUSUN and PASAN told THISDAY that the state government had started the process of setting up the State Accounts Allocation Committees (SAAC).
The State Chairman of JUSUN, Oko Nnachi, told THISDAY that the processes that would lead to the formation of the committee had started in the state.
The Ebonyi State Chairman of PASAN, Mrs. Uche Edene noted that the state had gradually started the implementation of the Financial Autonomy even before the strike started.
She noted that the state had enacted Fund Management Law in 2016 which gave birth to the State House of Assembly Commission.
The Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon Timothy Owoeye, told THISDAY through the Special Assistant on Media Affairs, Mr. Kunle Alabi that the Osun State Legislative Funds Management Bill 2021 and Osun State Judicial Funds Management Bill were passed recently and awaiting assent of Governor Gboyega Oyetola.
The Chairman of PASAN in Benue State, Mr. Joseph Adole told THISDAY that the state lawmakers had passed the bills but Governor Samuel Ortom has not given his assent.
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly last week passed the Assembly Financial Management Bill, waiting for Governor Abdullahi Sule’s assent.
Chairman of the state House of Assembly Committee on Information, Hon. Mohammed Omadefu, who disclosed this to THISDAY, added that the Judicial Financial Management Bill has scaled through the second reading in the house.
In Taraba State, the two bills seeking financial autonomy for the judiciary and legislature have only passed the first readings in the state House of Assembly.
THISDAY also gathered that the Akwa Ibom State Legislative Fund Management Bill is still at the committee level and may be committed to a public hearing for further input, while the bill on the judiciary was yet to be sent to the House of Assembly for consideration.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Information and member representing Etinan State Constituency, Mr. Aniefiok Dennis confirmed this to THISDAY weekend.
Governors Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State were also yet to implement autonomy in their states.
Imo State Chairman of JUSUN, Mr. Ernest Nnanebu, told THISDAY that the union was getting set for another round of strike.
Chairman of the PASAN in Edo State, Comrade Hassan Umaru Faruq told THISDAY that the state lawmakers have not done anything on the bills.
Culled from Thisday