Buhari inaugurates panel for state legislature, judicial autonomy

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday inaugurated a committee for the implementation of policies that guarantee autonomy for legislative and judicial arms in the state in accordance with the 4th alteration to the 1999 Constitution.

This, he said, is to guarantee financial autonomy of state legislatures as well as state judiciary.Inaugurating the committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President said he was committed to the principles of separation of powers.

According to him, the committee was necessitated by the realisation that legislative and judicial autonomy was necessary pre-conditions for democracy to endure.“We are committed to strengthening our democracy by ensuring separation of powers among the three arms of Nigerian Government, even at the state levels. Furthermore, we have identified the need to sustain our constitutionally guaranteed Federal system of government by building capabilities not only at the Federal level but at all the Federating Units.

“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 level 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,” he said. 

Moreover, President Buhari stated that 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 or hindrance. 

According to him, “In this regard, ensuring that these organs of government enjoy financial autonomy will further enhance their efficiency and independence.“In executing this important national assignment, the Committee, as constituted, is expected to 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.”

Members of the committee are representatives of State Judiciary, Nasir Ajanah, Chief Judge of Kogi State, Kate Abiri, Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Abdullahi Maikano Usman, Grand Khadi, Gombe State Sharia Court of Appeal; and Abbazih Musa Abubakar Sadeeq, President of the FCT Customary Court of Appeal.

The state legislatures are to be represented by Mudashiru Obasa, Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria and Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, as well as Abel Peter Riah, Speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly.The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria is to be represented by Marwan Mustapha Adamu, Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, Bala Hadi; Body of Chairmen of Houses of Assembly Service Commissions, Musa Mustapha Agwai and Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, David Umaru

Others are House of Representatives Committee on Federal Judiciary, Aminu Shagari and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, the Secretary of the National Judicial Council, Ahmed Gambo Saleh and a representative of the National Assembly, Charles Bala, DG of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Asishana Okauru, Chairman of the Forum of Finance Commissioners in Nigeria; President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN; and Chike Adibuah Esq, representing Civil Society Organizations.