Financial autonomy: First line charge adopted for state legislature, judiciary

President Muhammadu Buhari

State legislatures and the judiciary are soon to have their budgets on first line charge following the adoption of the new method by the federal government.

Participants at a retreat organised by the presidential implementation committee on autonomy of state legislature and state judiciary, adopted the budgeting model in Abuja at the weekend.


The decision was announced in a communique signed by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and 21 others.

President Muhammadu Buhari had assented to the bill on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration) in June 2018, granting financial autonomy to states’ legislatures and the Judiciary.

The participants adopted “a budgeting model operating at the federal level where the sum due to the Judiciary and the Legislature are captured as First Line Charge in the budget laid before and passed by the legislature,” the communique reads.

They urged the Governors as the Heads of the Executive Arm of Government to begin full implementation of the financial autonomy granted the Legislature and the Judiciary.

“There are various levels of minimal compliance in various states but all fall short of the expected compliance, as budget performance across 36 states of the Federation show that whilst the least allocations to the state judiciary in the past three years was 0.6 percent of the budget of the entire state, the highest allocation was 4.89 percent,” they said.

They recommended that the budget proposal of the two arms of government should be defended before the relevant committees of the legislature.

The participants drawn from the three arms and tiers of the government advocated that the total sum, both capital and recurrent, approved in the annual budget of the state, be released monthly on a pro–rata basis by the Accountant General of the State, directly to the heads of the legislature and the judiciary, and heads of Judicial Service Commission.

“That the budgeted sum, capital and recurrent, howsoever described, be released to the Judiciary to be spent by the Judiciary on the projects, programmes and capital development of the Judiciary, including recruitment and training of personnel. And so for the Legislature.’’

The meeting abolished the current practice in some states where appropriated recurrent expenditure due the Judiciary and Legislature in the budget, are released to the Judiciary and Legislature and the capital components are warehoused in the Executive.

It also advised for the adoption of the Model Budget Template of the Judiciary and Legislature, the strata of line consultations and inter arms, as well as inter-agency pre-budget consultations and front loading as already done in some states.

They also advocated for the creation of a State Allocation Committee comprising the Commissioner for Finance, the Accountant General of the State, the Clerk of the State House of Assembly, the Chief Registrars of High Courts, Sharia Court of Appeal and Customary Courts, the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission/Committee and the Secretary of the State Assembly Service Commission, if any, for the purpose of determining the amount due to each arm of government based on the budgetary provision but subject to the funds available to the state.

“The retirement benefit and pensions of judicial officers of Superior Courts of Records in the state should be paid by the National Judicial Council.’’

The communique said state houses of assembly be encouraged to pass Funds Management Law or Budget Process Law as a legal framework that will ensure judicious budgeting and use of funds accrued to the state.


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