Reps Reverse Approval For Jonathan To Withhold Funds

Reps Reverse Approval For Jonathan To Withhold Funds

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from withholding the allocations of the three states under emergency rule in the country.

Reps Reverse Approval For Jonathan To Withhold Funds

The states are Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

By its action of Tuesday, the House reversed a joint decision it earlier took with the Senate on Thursday last week, bringing the management of the funds under Jonathan’s control.

In a motion sponsored by a lawmaker from Taraba State, Mr. Ibrahim El-Sudi, the House resolved to “delete and revoke completely, Section 3 (2)(e) of the harmonised, adopted and approved Emergency Powers (General) Regulations, 2013 by both Houses of the National Assembly.”

The controversial section authorised Jonathan to “provide for the utilisation of the funds of any State or Local Government in the Emergency area.”

The House said the section implied that the President shall take charge of the management of the funds due to the affected states and council areas under emergency.

El-Sudi claimed that the U-turn was due to “public outcry and outright opposition by majority of Nigerians” to the powers conferred on Jonathan.

He also said there was a “near consensus of opinion” by senior lawyers in the country that the provision was uncalled for.

El-Sudi noted that Section 1, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution recognised Nigeria as a Federation in which the states and local governments had control over their funds.

He added, “Therefore, the President cannot withhold the funds of these states and local governments. We cannot by legislation confer powers that have not been given to us, by regulations.

“Besides, the Supreme Court has since settled this matter by deciding that the Federal Government reserves no right to withhold the funds of any state or local government.”

He added, “We cannot seize the funds meant for the states and local governments to fund the operations of the armed forces in the emergency area.”

House Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, in supporting the motion, observed that withholding the funds was another way of removing the democratic structures in the states from office.

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