By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Puma
The House of Representatives yesterday urged the Federal Government to direct the Minister of Finance, to release all outstanding funds due the judiciary as contained in the 2018 Appropriation Act This resolution followed the adoption of the motion entitled: “Refusal of the minister of finance to release funds standing to the credit of the judiciary” sponsored by Rep. Aminu Shehu Shagari (PDP/Sokoto).
Moving the motion, Rep. Shagari stated that the funding of the judiciary is on first line charge as stipulated in Section 81(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
According to the lawmaker, “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.”
Shagari further said that the essence of the above provision was to guarantee financial and administrative independence of the judiciary, “thereby insulating it from interference and control by any other arm of government”.
He disclosed that N110billion was approved in the 2018 Appropriation Act as against the sum of N100billion which was proposed.
According to the lawmaker, the House Committee on Federal Judiciary in the exercise of its oversight powers visited courts and judicial bodies on November 7 and 8, 2018 in an attempt to ascertain the extent of implementation of the 2018 budget.
The motion enjoyed the unanimous support of the House when Speaker Yakubu Dogara put it to a voice vote.
The House therefore mandated its committees on Federal Judiciary, Federal Capital Territory Judiciary and Finance to ensure compliance and report back within one week for further legislative action.