By Dipo Olowookere
A bill granting autonomy, including financial, to state houses of assembly as well as the judiciary has been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which grants financial autonomy and independence to the Houses of Assembly of the respective states.
With this, both the judicial and legislative arms of the 36 state governments of the federation would receive their allocations directly from the source.
Before this bill was signed into law, allocations were paid to the state houses of assembly and the judiciary by the governors. This allowed the governors to have control over the other arms of government, which should ordinarily be independent.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Mr Ita Enang, informed newsmen on Friday that the objective of the bill was to create a level playing ground for dispensation of justice.
“I just want to inform you that His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari today (Friday) assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which grants financial autonomy and independence to the Houses of Assembly of the respective states.
“This also applies to the Judiciary of the respective states.
“It grants full autonomy now to the judiciary at the state level and the Houses of Assembly at the state level.
“There is another of the Act which has come into force today. It is Constitution amended number 21 which relates to the determination of pre-election matters.
“It has reduced the date and time of determining pre-election matters to ensure that pre-election matters in Court do not get into the time of the elections and do not pend thereafter the relevant sections of the Constitution had also been amended by this Act, therefore amending the Constitution.”
He further said, “The other one is Act or Bill number 16 which is now an Act and the intent of that Act is to ensure that where a Vice President succeed that President and where a deputy governor succeeds a governor, he can no more contest for that office more than once more.
“The fact is that having taken the oat as President once, and you can only contest for once again and no more. That is the intent of this amendment.
“The other amendment is Bill number 9 now an act which gives the Independent National Electoral Commission sufficient time to conduct bye elections. It has increased the number from seven to 21 days and generally widened the latitude of the Independent National Electoral Commission to handle election matters upon vacancy occurring. Therefore these four bills adding to the Not Too Young To Run Act have now been assented by Mr President and have now become laws. Then the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended are hereby further amended by the assent of Mr President to these bills today (Friday).
“This allows the State Houses of Assembly to operate like the National Assembly does because the National Assembly does not get it from the executive.”
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