By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, has given a 7-day ultimatum to the National Assembly to review the process of presentation of the annual budget appropriation in line with the 1999 constitution as amended.
Specifically, according to Agbakoba, the three arms of government is expected to prepare their different appropriation bill for each financial year, submitted before the National Assembly after which it is appropriated, harmonized as a bill and presented to the President for his assent in line with sections 81 to 84 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
In letters dated January, 3, 2018, titled: “Is 2018 Appropriation Bill Constitutional?” copied to both the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, Agbakoba argued that the legislature and the executive arms are not following due process and implementing the express provisions of constitution.
Beside, the lawyer submitted, the action by the lawmakers and the executive arm of government was a brazen violations of the existing court judgment in Olisa Agbakoba vs Attorney General of the Federation and others (Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013, which had declared as unconstitutional the annual presentation of the nation’s budget by the President and commander in chief.
Threatening a legal action to reverse the process by enforcing the decision of the Federal High Court and set aside the 2018 Appropriation Bill, Agbakoba stated, “please note that if after 7 days the constitutional procedure is not complied with, we shall have no choice but to initiate legal proceedings to enforce the decision of the Federal High Court and set aside the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
“In summary, the constitutional procedure for preparing the appropriation bill is that each arm of government (the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary) lays before the National Assembly its estimates of revenue and expenditure for each financial year after which it is appropriated, harmonized as a bill and presented to the President for his assent.
“Unfortunately, the Executive has failed to comply with this procedure by laying before the National Assembly estimates of revenues and expenditure for the Judiciary. This is in spite of a subsisting Federal High Court decision in OLISA AGBAKOBA VS. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION & OTHERS SUIT No. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013 that has declared this practice unconstitutional.
“We suggest that the National Assembly draw the attention of the Executive to the decision of the Federal High Court.
The National Assembly should request the National Judicial Council to lay before it the Judiciary’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2018 and the Executive be made to represent its estimates for 2018.”
He added that there was no evidence that the National Assembly has laid its budget estimates and that of the other arms, including the judiciary before the National Assembly.