The House of Representatives has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed to release outstanding Funds “Standing to the Credit of the Judiciary.”
This is as it said the minister should be compelled to comply with Section 81 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) and the Year 2018 Appropriation Act and release to the National Judicial Council all the outstanding funds to the Judiciary.
It would recalled that the sum of N110bn was approved for Judiciary in the year 2018 Appropriation Act as against the 100 Billion proposed by the Executive.
This is sequel to a motion on the refusal of the Minister of Finance to release funds outstanding to the credit of the Judiciary sponsored by Hon. Aminu Shehu Shagari who noted that the funding of Judiciary is on a First Line Charge as stipulated in Section 81 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).
Shagari said that the Section provides that, “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 under section 6 of this Constitution.”
He noted that the essence of the Constitutional provision is to guarantee Financial and Administrative Independence of the Judiciary thereby insulating it from interference and control by any other Arm of the Government.
The lawmaker also said the House Committee on Judiciary in the exercise of its oversight Powers, visited Courts and Judicial Bodies on the 7th and 8th November 2018 in an attempt to ascertain the extent of implementation of the 2018 Budget.
“According to the Report that was available to the Committee, the Hon. minister of Finance who is functionary of the Executive Arm of the Government has been withholding Funds standing to the Credit of the Judiciary as at when due.”
Shagari said this act undermines both the Constitution and the 2018 Appropriation Act and expressed worry that the withholding of Funds to the Judiciary may disrupt the efficiency of the Judicial Arm.
“And may as well place in jeopardy its financial obligations to both the serving and the retired judicial officers and indeed Its financial obligations to contractual agreements,” the lawmaker said.
The House also mandated the Committees on Federal Judiciary, Federal Capital Territory Judiciary and Finance to ensure compliance and report back to the House within one week.