Agbakoba threatens court action to stop NASS debate on 2018 Budget

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Former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN)
Former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN)

The 2018 Federal Government’s Appropriation Bill currently undergoing debate on the floor of National Assembly may have come under threat as former president, Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO), Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), on Wednesday threatened to approach the court to stop its passage if within seven days President Muhammadu Buhari did not withdraw the document, describing it as unconstitutional.

Agbakoba issued this threat in a letter titled, ‘Is the 2018 Appropriation Bill Constitutional?’ date 3rd January, 2018 and separately addressed to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, citing a subsisting Federal High Court decision in Olisa Agbakoba vs. Attorney General of the Federation General of the Federal & others suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013.

According to Agbakoba, the 2018 Budget is unconstitutional and should be withdrawn based on fact on ground that it was singularly prepared by the Executive Arm as against the court ruling which affirmed that each arm of government, including the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary should prepare its budget separately and lay it before the National Assembly for passage.

“Sections 81 to 84 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) set out the procedure for preparing the Appropriation Bill.

“The Constitution requests each arm of government (the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary) to lay 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 inspite of a subsisting Federal High Court decision in Olisa Agbakoba vs. Attorney General of the Federation General of the Federal & others suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/63/2013. That has declared this practice unconstitutional,” Agbakoba said.

Agbakoba, while saying that he was unaware if the National Assembly had laid its budget estimates, called on the parliament to draw President Buhari’s attention to the decision of the court and request the National Judicial Council (NJC) to lay before it the Judiciary’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2018, while the Executive be made to represent its estimates for the current financial year.

“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,” Agbakoba demanded.

“But 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,” he threatened.

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