President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated a Presidential panel to rescue the judiciary and legislature at State level from the undue dominance and influence of external forces, especially the executive.
The President, in inaugurating the committee today, Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said: “this Committee has therefore been set-up, as a major reform of this administration, to ensure that the autonomy granted to the legislature and judiciary at the State levels is maintained, pursuant to Section 161 of the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution (As Amended).
“The Committee is thus expected to foster effective implementation of the autonomy constitutionally granted the State Legislature and Judiciary under the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It is my hope that when this is done, there will be proper checks and balances, and the State Legislature and Judiciary shall be genuinely empowered to carry out their respective Constitutional duties without fear of dominance and or marginalization.”
The President said that the setting up of the Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary is necessitated by the realization that Legislative and Judicial autonomy are necessary pre-conditions for democracy to endure.
Buhari vowed therefore to strengthen the nation’s democracy by ensuring separation of powers among the three arms of Nigerian Government, even at the State levels.
He said that his government has identified the need to sustain the constitutionally guaranteed Federal system of government by building capabilities not only at the Federal level but at all the Federating Units.
“The Legislature, being the closest arm of government to the people, and the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man, must both be seen to be sufficiently independent to perform their respective constitutional roles without any interference, let or hindrance. In this regard, ensuring that these organs of government enjoy financial autonomy will further enhance their efficiency and independence.”
He charged the committee that in executing the assignment, it should cooperate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure compliance with the Constitutional provisions granting autonomy to State Legislature and Judiciary, without deviating from its approved Terms of Reference.
The President listed such terms of reference as follows:
a) To assess and review the level of compliance by all the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended);
b) To monitor, ensure and cause the implementation of Financial Autonomy across the Judiciary and Legislature of the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and other applicable Laws, Instruments, Regulations, and Conventions howsoever providing for financial autonomy for the Legislature and Judiciary at the State tier of Government;
c) To consult and relate with the appropriate Federal and State MDAs, including but not limited to the Governors Forum, Accountant General of the Federation and those of the States, the National Economic Council and other institutions of State to ensure and where necessary, enforce the implementation of Constitutional provisions;
d) To come up with appropriate modalities or model to be adopted by all the States of the Federation for implementation and/or compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended);
e) To advice on other measures that are deemed necessary or incidental to the fulfillment of the aims of the Committee to attain the full purport of this assignment.
The Committee is chaired by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, with the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, as Secretary.
The Committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations within three months from today, Friday.