By Ismaeel Uthman
The judicial arm of government in the State of Osun has begun processes to achieve its financial autonomy, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari through an executive order in May this year.
Chief Judge of the state, Justice Adepele Ojo, has forwarded a bill christened “Judiciary (Funds Management) Law, 2020 to secure the financial autonomy for that arm of government.
According to Ojo, in a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon Timothy Owoeye, the bill is to provide for the management of funds due to the judiciary of the state by the third arm of government when passed into law.
Ojo stated that the bill would be accurate and give impetus to the tenets of constitutional provision which empowers the judiciary to receive or have released to her by the state government monies due to it for capital and recurrent expenditure in every fiscal year.
She stated that the bill will provide necessary guidelines to the state government in appropriating and releasing to the Osun judiciary such monies and amounts due to her from the appropriation law of the state in every fiscal year.
The bill will also serve as a guide to the Osun judiciary in the management of funds due and released to her by the state government for capital and recurrent expenditure of the courts.
It will also serve as a law to give effect to the executive order of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the funding of the judicial arm of government in Nigeria.
When the Judiciary (Funds Management) Law, 2020 is passed to law, the Accountant-General of the state shall furnish the state judiciary with information on the gross revenue inflow to the state from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee and Internally-Generated Revenue, not later than seven days after the FAAC meeting for each month.
The bill also sees to the creation of State Judiciary Funds Management Committee, to be chaired by the Chief Judge, for the purpose of administering the preparation and implementation of the budget of the judiciary.
A section of the bill reads: “All monies due to the judiciary for capital and recurrent expenditure shall be released by the Accountant-General to the Heads of Courts of the state judiciary and Judicial Service Commission in monthly instalments, in accordance with the provisions of Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The monthly instalments shall be determined by apportioning the approved budgetary figures by 12 equal instalments. These monthly instalments shall be adjusted to reflect the ratio of the gross allocation from FAAC and IGR on the approved budget for the state
“Where the gross allocation from FAAC and IGR in any month is lower than the budgeted amount for that month, the amount due to the judiciary shall be paid on a pro-rata basis. Hitherto, when there is increase in the subsequent income of the state, any previous shortfall shall be paid in arrears to the judiciary.
“Any failure or neglect by the commissioner responsible for finance and or the Accountant-General of the state to release the funds for the State Judiciary one week after the funds have become due shall amount to gross misconduct and dereliction of duty and therefore liable to disciplinary measures in accordance with the existing Civil Service Rules and the extant laws of the state.”
The bill also provides for the creation of Due Process Department, which shall prepare and update standard bidding and contract document, prevent fraudulent and unfair procurement and where necessary, apply administrative sanctions.