The Body of Attorneys General of the States of the Federation, BOAGS, has expressed displeasure over the Federal Government’s incorrect distribution of funds derived from the Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMT Levy) to the Federal, State and Local Governments.
According to them it is in disregard of constitutional and statutory provisions stating that neither Section 163 of the 1999 Constitution nor Section 89(a) of the Stamp Duties Act, SDA –introduced through Section 48 of the Finance Act 2020) countenance the disbursement of the EMT Levy to the Local Governments.
This was part of a communique issued and signed on behalf of members by the Chairman of the Body, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State as well as the Secretary, Dr. Abdulkarim Kana, Honourable Attorney General, Nasarawa State, from its second meeting held in Asaba, Delta State from 30th November and 2nd December 2022.
According to the communique, SDA provides a sharing formula for the revenue derived from the EMT levy, with 15% of the revenue allocated to the Federal Government and Federal Capital Territory and the remaining 85% allocated to the State Governments.
Therefore, the body insists that each Federating State
must receive 85% of the levy derived from that State as the law provides.
“While we commend the financial sustenance of Local Governments, we counsel against the disregard of Constitutional and statutory provisions. Neither section 163 of the 1999 Constitution nor
section 89A of the Stamp Duties Act (SDA –introduced through section 48 of the Finance Act 2020 countenance the disbursement of the EMT Levy to the Local Governments.
Similarly, it noted the absence of pools, betting, lotteries, gaming, and casinos in the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists while stating that these items are residual matters reserved exclusively for the States, outside the National Assembly’s legislative competence.
Consequently, the body agreed to join the Government of Lagos State as co-plaintiffs in Suit No. SC.1/2008 before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The body meanwhile commended the National Assembly for the recent round of proposed Constitutional amendments, many of which devolve powers from the Federal Government to the States. It noted that devolution ensures that decisions are made closer to the local people, communities, and businesses they affect.
“The result will be more effective, better targeted public services, greater growth and stronger partnerships between public, private and community leaders in the States”.
The body thereby calls on all State Attorneys General that have not done so to advise their Houses of Assembly on each proposed amendment’s relative merits or demerits to facilitate informed decisions by the State Legislatures.
Part of the communique also noted that at its inaugural meeting held in Lagos between 15th to 17th June 2022, whereby the body called on the Federal Government to cease any deductions from the States regarding the purported N418 Billion London/Paris Club Loan consultancy fee pending the final resolution of an appeal filed on behalf of the States.
The body expressed displeasure and unequivocally condemn the Federal Government’s issuance of promissory notes despite the subsistence of an Appeal on the matter, thereby, calling on the Federal Government to respect the Judicial process and immediately cease any further deductions to avoid imposing a fait accompli on the Court.
Also, the body reinstates its commitment to taking immediate steps to ensure that Administration of Civil Justice Laws and procedures are strengthened, made more efficient or otherwise reformed to ensure speedy dispensation of justice and resolution of disputes, thus boosting the confidence of citizens in the justice delivery system.
Regarding the payment of pensions and gratuity for retired State Judges, the body reaffirms that the responsibility falls to the National Judicial Council under Sections 80, 81(3)(c), 84(1), (2), (4) and (7); 2nd Schedule, Part 1, Item 44; 3rd Schedule, Part 1, Paragraph 21(e); and 3rd Schedule Part 2, Paragraph C of the 1999 Constitution. Therefore, those provisions must be fully obeyed and implemented.
While reiterating its position regarding the Constitutional powers of the Federating States to establish Anti-Corruption bodies. The efforts by some States to establish State Anti-Corruption Commissions was commended, while urging other States in the Federation to follow suit.
The body noted that crimes committed within a State’s territory must be investigated and prosecuted in that State. It strongly condemned the transfer of criminal investigations from State Commands to the Force Headquarters for collateral and/or obstructive purposes.
Furthermore, the body reasserted its invitation for all States to deploy appropriate technology in court proceedings while restating its commitment to knowledge-sharing and inter-State cooperation in establishing best practices in administering justice.
The body also resolves to i. The formal registration of BOAGS at the Corporate Affairs Commission ii. Establishing, staffing, and equipping a permanent secretariat for BOAGS iii. The financial sustenance of BOAGS through the payment of annual dues iv. collegiality between and commitment from the State Attorneys General.