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Delta Assembly passes ‘deceptive’ Judiciary Fund Management Bill

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The Delta State Judiciary Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2019, described as a deception and a fraud on the judiciary, has been read the third time and passed by the State House of Assembly.

TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports the bill was read the third time and passed by the State House of Assembly on Thursday during plenary presided over by Speaker of the House, Sheriff Oborevwori.

The Speaker, who described the passage of the bill as a huge milestone for democracy in Delta State, said the  Bill will strengthen the financial autonomy granted to the Judicial Arm of Government.

“The passage of this Bill is a huge milestone for democracy in Delta State. Without a doubt, this Bill will strengthen the financial autonomy granted to the Judicial Arm of Government and ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in the utilization of the funds which shall accrue to the Judiciary from the State’s Consolidated Revenue Fund,” Oborevwori said.

However, the Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Effurun Branch, Kingsley Okes Idisi had described the Delta State Judiciary Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill as a deception and a fraud on the judiciary.

He said the bill is not, as currently being echoed, a bill that grants financial autonomy to the Delta State Judiciary, stressing it is another executive cum political scam on the entire judicial system in Delta State.

The “bill… seeks to direct and make transparent the management of funds released to the judiciary from the state government. The drafters of the Bill were deceptive to title the Bill as if it is one for financial autonomy for the Judiciary.

“The said Bill is craftily titled: “Delta State Judiciary Fund Management (Financial Autonomy) Law”. Meanwhile, the real content of the Bill will otherwise aptly be captured by the title “Delta State Judiciary Fund Management Law”.

“The words “Financial Autonomy” cunningly smuggled into the title is the deception in the Bill. At face value, the general public will obviously be deceived into thinking that the state’s judiciary already has financial autonomy, thereby making nonsense further clamour for financial autonomy for the judiciary,” Idisi said.

The barrister went further to say that during public hearing on the bill held in Asaba, he raised and heavily canvassed this issue before the House Committee chaired by Hon. Pat Ajudua.

Recall that at the opening of the new legal year, the State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa had categorically expressed optimism that the House will fast track the passage of the bill.

Idisi said he had received calls from colleagues in other jurisdictions applauding Delta State Government for leading the country in terms of Financial Autonomy for the Judiciary.

“This is the political intent of this fraud! Perpetrated worst still at the expense of the Judiciary and ultimately the common man who will always cry for justice.

“For the umpteenth time, Financial Autonomy for the judiciary simply says that the allocation meant for the judiciary should be deducted at source from the Federation Account as of right and paid directly to the judiciary and not through the executive arm or any other third party.

“The (Fourth Alteration, No.4) Act of 2018, which amended the existing Section 121 (3) of the Constitution provides that any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary shall be paid directly to the heads of the courts concerned.

“That is what financial autonomy for the judiciary means! On the contrary, section 13 of the proposed Fund Management Bill, now flagged as Financial Autonomy Bill by the State Government is in sharp contrast with the constitution and affirms in a very worrisome manner, the right of the Delta State Government to act as third party intermediary between the state judiciary and the federal government in respect of funds due to the state judiciary,” the NBA scribe stated.

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