By Peter Duru
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has assented to two bills ensuring full financial autonomy to both the legislative and judicial arms of the state government.
The first bill is the Law to Provide for the Management of Funds Accruing to the Benue State Judiciary from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State; while the second is the Law to Provide for the Management of Funds Accruing to the Benue State House of Assembly.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Mike Gusa who made this known Thursday while presenting copies of the laws to the media in Makurdi explained that for proper implementation of the laws, the government had created the State Accounts Allocation Committee, SAAC, saddled with the responsibility of sharing funds that accrue to the state monthly in such a manner that would be agreed on by the three arms of government.
Mr. Gusa said the aim was to strengthen democracy and the separation of powers that were already in place
According to him: “It is also to strengthen the smooth relationship between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary and to also keep to the desire of Governor Ortom on non-interference with the workings and operations of the other arms of government.
“This law was assented to by the Governor and we are in the process of gazetting same so that it will be made available to the public.”
Mr. Gusa assured that the SAAC would not usurp the Local Government Joint Account Committee, JAC, saying that while the JAC would be managing the funds accruing to local governments, the SAAC would manage funds accruing to the state.
“The state government does not grant autonomy. This is provided by the constitution. What we are doing is implementing the provisions of the constitution.
“So we have only drawn out a legal framework to give a backing to the provisions of the constitution that says that when money is allocated to the state, they should be shared between the three arms of government, the executive, the legislatures and the judiciary.”
He said with the legal framework in place, the Judiciary and Legislature in the state would enjoy financial autonomy.