Tough Battle:State Governors Plan To Drag President Buhari, NFIU To Court Over LG, Legislature Autonomy
The state governors are quickly loosing their leverage on the other tiers of government within their respective states as the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) begins implementation of its new guidelines.
Remember that when the NFIU first released the guidelines, it was the financial autonomy granted to local government that made top news but a study of the whole guidelines has shown that the structure of the guidelines hits states more as it also curtails state’s leverage on its legislature and judiciary.
While raising alarm over the issue, the governors have begun to plead with President Muhammadu Buhari to pull the brakes on the implementation of the controversial guidelines on local government funds.
The governors while pleading with the president advised that the NFIU should be called to order because, the guidelines rolled out are in violation of the 1999 Constitution.
They believe NFIU is stoking mischief and seeking to cause “disaffection”, and “overheat the polity”.
According to THE NATION, the governors may go to court if the NFIU remains adamant on its position.
THE NATION reports that the state governors’ control over statutory allocations to Houses of Assembly and the Judiciary have also been removed by the new guidelines.
The government, in a directive issued yesterday, said it had abolished warehousing by governors of capital and recurrent budgets of the Assembly and the Judiciary.
It said henceforth, the Judiciary and the Legislature will be on first line charge.
The governors are pushing for NFIU directives on local government funds to be rolled back.
A letter dated May 15, written to the President by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari, titled “Re: NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Created by Cash Withdrawal from Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria Effective June 1st, 2019″, stated the stand of the governors on the new guidelines.
The letter said: “The attention of the Nigeria Governors Forum(NGF) has been called to certain Guidelines on the above subject recently released by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and purportedly said to become operational effective 1st June 2019.
“The NGF wishes to express its dismay and angst at the attempt to ridicule our collective integrity and show total disregard to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(1999) as amended.
“Similarly, Section 162(6) of the Constitution expressly provides for the creation of the State Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA) into which shall be paid all allocations to the LGAs of the state from the Federation Account and from the government of the state.
“Section 162(7) of the Constitution goes on to confer on the National Assembly the power to prescribe the terms and manners in which funds from the SJLGA may be disbursed and in subsection 8, the Constitution empowers the State House of Assembly to prescribe the manner in which the amount standing to the credit of the local councils in the state shall be distributed. We respectively attach relevant sections of the Constitution.
“Nothing in the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2018 (herewith attached) gives the NFIU the powers that it seeks to exercise in the recently released Guidelines and in doing this, the Unit has acted in excess of its powers and in complete disregard to the constitution of the country.
“The so-called guidelines are, in our view, an exercise in mischief-stoking and one calculated to cause chaos and overheat the polity.
“The guidelines have nine (9) provisions, including two (2) sections covering sanctions/ penalties, powers that they clearly do not possess.”
The governors expressed regret that there were no wider consultations with stakeholders before the NFIU allegedly unilaterally came up with the guidelines.
They pleaded with the President to call to order the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NFIU, Mr. Modibbo Hamman-Tukur.
The letter added: “The NFIU in proposing far-reaching guidelines of this nature ought to have consulted widely and carried all stakeholders along. The Director of the NFIU should be called to order because reckless proposals like the said NFIU Guidelines have the potential to cause disaffection in the country. For ease of reference, we are attaching the NFIU Guidelines.”
The governors, who said they are not opposed to the war against corruption, money laundering and terrorism, urged the President to direct the NFIU to disregard the guidelines.