Governors approve template to implement financial autonomy of judiciary, legislature

Governors of the 36 states of the federation on the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), have approved a common template for the implementation of the Memorandum of Action signed with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASUN) on the implementation of financial autonomy for the State legislature and judiciary.

In a communique issued at the end of the Forum’s meeting and signed by NGF’s Chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, the Forum said the template was developed following a meeting of the State Attorneys General and Commissioners of Finance which held on the 25th of June 2021 at the directive of the Forum.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, had in May 2020, signed into law an Executive Order 10 to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the country.

The order also mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.

The union had embarked on a nationwide strike in April to protest the non-implementation of the financial autonomy of the nation’s judiciary.

The union directed all its members across the federation to shut down all courts after the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum earlier given over the failure of the government to implement the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

The strike was eventually called off 64 days later following a meeting between officials of the union and the National Judicial Council (NJC) led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad.

On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the Forum is in full support of the unbundling and commercialization of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) but concerned with the proposed ownership structure of the NNPC which places ownership on the Federal Government.

The NGF recommended that given that the corporation is owned  by the three tiers of government, the new incorporated entity (NNPC Limited) should be owned by a  vehicle that holds the interest of the three tiers of government – for now, the institution that is positioned to carry out this mandate is the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).

“This amendment as well as the proposed 3% share of oil revenue to host communities and 30% share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins will be responded to at relevant channels including the National Assembly  and the National Economic Council (NEC).

On the Nigerian Postal Service Bill, 2021 and Stamp Duties Collection, the Forum expressed concern with certain proposed amendments to the Principal Stamp Duties Act by  the Nigerian Senate which seeks to remove the powers to administer and collect stamp duties from the relevant tax authorities (Federal Inland Revenue Service or State Internal Revenue Service, depending  on the nature of the transaction) to the Nigeria Postal Service. The provisions of Section 163 of the 1999

Constitution requires that Stamp Duties on transactions between a company and an individual should be paid to the FIRS and returned to the State of derivation. The Forum resolved to engage with the National Assembly on the matter.

On the Sale of Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Assets, the NGF said it  will take a position on the planned privatization of assets of the Niger Delta Power Holding  Company (NDPHC) which were listed by the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) without due consultation

with State governments who are shareholders of the company. NDPHC is incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act as a private limited liability company with shareholding fully subscribed to by the Federal, State and Local Governments with a mandate to manage National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) in the country.

On the launch of the NGF Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative, the Forum put its weight behind the launch of its Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative (PISI) set up to tackle insecurity, conflicts and violence in the country.

It said the launch of PISI which took place on 8th July  2021 heralded an important milestone for NGF as it seeks to build a more inclusive and collaborative platform to drive an urgent country-wide response to security challenges in the country.- The Sun.

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