Group flays FG over distribution of EMT levy
The Body of Attorneys General of the States of the Federation (BOAGS) has expressed displeasure over the Federal Government’s wrong distribution of funds derived from the Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMT Levy) to the Federal, state and local governments.
The group said it is in disregard of constitutional and statutory provisions, stating that 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 local governments.
BOAGS insisted that each federating state must receive 85 per cent of the levy derived from that state as the law provides.
This was part of a communiqué issued and signed on behalf of members of the body by its chairman, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, and the Secretary, Dr. Abdulkarim Kana, Attorney General, Nasarawa State, after their second meeting held in Asaba, Delta State between November 30 and December 2, 2022.
According to the communiqué, “SDA provides a sharing formula for the revenue derived from the EMT levy, with 15 per cent of the revenue allocated to the Federal Government and Federal Capital Territory and the remaining 85 per cent allocated to the State governments.
Each federating state must receive 85 per cent 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,” the group insisted.
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.
The body, however, agreed to join the government of Lagos State as co-plaintiffs in suit marked SC.1/2008 before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the body 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 communiqué stated.
The body, therefore, called 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 state legislatures.
Part of the communiqué also noted that at its inaugural meeting held in Lagos between June 15 and 17, 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 condemned the Federal Government’s issuance of promissory notes despite the subsistence of an appeal on the matter.
It, therefore, called 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 reinstated 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.
It reiterated its position regarding the constitutional powers of the federating states to establish anti-corruption bodies.
Also, the efforts by some states to establish anti-corruption commissions were commended.
BOAGS 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 formally register BOAGS at the Corporate Affairs Commission, establish, staff and equip a permanent secretariat for BOAGS as well as financial sustenance of the body through the payment of yearly dues, collegiality among them and commitment from the state Attorneys General.