AUTONOMY: FG can withhold allocations of states flouting legislature, judiciary order – Attorney – General of the Federation ( AGF)

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), said on Thursday that the Executive Order 10 newly issued by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was to ensure compliance with constitutional provisions guaranteeing the financial autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary.

The minister said with the Executive Order, the Federal Government could through the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation withhold the allocations of any state that fails to honour the autonomy of the two other arms of the state government.

The Special Assistant to the AGF on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu, said in a statement that the minister spoke in Abuja at a Radio Nigeria programme, ‘Politics Nationwide,’ on Thursday.

The new Executive Order was issued to the provision of section 121(3) of the constitution which guarantees the financial autonomy of the two arms of government at the state level.

It empowers the Accountant-General of the Federation to, in the event of any state’s failure to release the allocation due to its judiciary or legislature, deduct such allocation from the state’s funds in the Federation Account and pay it directly to any of the state’s arm of government deprived of its allocation.

Malami noted that the Executive Order 10 was aimed at ensuring constitutional compliance, complementing existing legislations, ensuring and enhancing operation, enforcement and application of legal provisions as well as providing necessary supervision required for enforcement.

He added that it would help to ensure inter-agency coordination in the process of implementation of the provision of section 121(3) of the constitution.

According to him, the Federal Government can, in its bid to enforce the constitutional provision, ask the Accountant-General of the Federation’s office to withhold the allocations of states that refused to comply with the constitutional provision.

He said, “The Executive Order is therefore a necessary tool for the purpose of bringing to effect such autonomy by way of assigning certain responsibilities, both institutional and otherwise necessary for the purpose of enforcing the autonomy.

“By way of example, therefore, if the Federal Government wants to withhold the resources of a state government that refuses to comply with the constitutional provision relating to the autonomy of state legislatures and judiciary, then the Federal Government may require the services of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

“Similarly, if the government wants the state legislature to be part of the process relating to appropriation, for example, agreement must be reached on the need for the state legislature to be alive to their responsibility.”

Meanwhile, governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, are to meet with Buhari to discuss details of his Executive Order 10 as well as issues relating to the party.

This, our correspondent gathered, was part of decisions reached during a teleconference meeting of the PGF, on Thursday.

The meeting with the President over his executive order is scheduled to hold early next week.

A source privy to the meeting who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said, “The governors agreed to take up the issue of the executive order with the President. They are in full support of the order but would like to discuss its finer details.

“They were of the opinion that details of the order ought to have been discussed with them before the publicity which followed it”.

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