Liman Salihu, chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Lokoja branch, has applauded Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, for abolishing Joint Local Governments Account in order to pave way for financial autonomy of the councils.
Salihu disclosed this on Monday in a statement made available to journalists in Lokoja, saying that the constitutional provision for local government autonomy was hitherto abused by previous administrations in the state.
He hinted further that financial autonomy for the councils would enable them to meet their constitutional obligations of grassroots development, payment of council workers and primary school teachers salaries.
According to the NBA chairman, the previous practice of deducting monies from councils’ allocations at the Ministry of Local Government in the state led to paucity of funds, resulting in percentage payment of workers’ salaries.
Describing the percentage payment as “completely unconstitutional, unacceptable and embarrassing to the system,” the NBA boss said the governor’s adherence to the constitution with respect to the abolition of the joint account was commendable.
Salihu also commended Bello for implementing the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which ordered the reinstatement of the 21 local government chairmen in the state sacked by a Koton-Karfe High Court on December 8, 2014.
He recalled that the order of the appellate court was not fully complied with by the immediate past administration, as it embarked on selective observance of the order until the new governor fully enforced the order.
“Observance of the rule of law is the hallmark of Nigeria’s constitution and for democracy to thrive, public officers must always adhere to the rule of law.”
He also urged the state government to resolve the lingering issue of financial autonomy for the state judiciary as the third arm of government by granting its financial independence in line with Section 121(3) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The constitution, he said, provides that “any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state shall be paid directly to the heads of courts concerned.”
He noted that the essence of the provision was to enhance speedy dispensation of cases and matters before the courts, improvement of facilities, adequate welfare for judicial staff and reduction of corruption and undue influence.
The NBA chairman urged the governor to comply with the constitutional provision and implement the subsisting agreement between the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, and the state government on the matter.

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