By Babajide Okeowo
The Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the Federal Government from deducting funds from the Federation Account to fund the Nigerian Police force and other agencies not listed in the constitution describing the deductions as unconstitutional.
Consequently, Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High ordered that all money deducted from the Federation Account belonging to Rivers State be refunded to the state.
He made the pronouncement in a judgment on a suit filed by the Rivers State Government against the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice; the Accountant General of the Federation; the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, and Federal Ministry of Finance.
Delivering judgment, Justice Mohammed agreed with the Rivers State Government that by virtue of Section 162 (3) of the Nigerian Constitution, funds standing to the credit of the Federation Account can only be distributed among the Federal Government, State Governments and Local Government Councils in each State of Nigeria and not directly to any agency of the Federal Government including the Nigeria Police Force.
The court declared the section of the law “permitting the direct deduction of any sum or percentage of revenue accruing to the Federation Account or which ought to have been paid into the Federation Account for the purpose of providing funds for the Nigeria Police Trust Fund” as “unconstitutional, null and void.”
According to the court, Rivers State will be the only beneficiary from the deduction and not the 35 States.
Recall that the Rivers State Government through its Attorney General had approached the court wherein it sought an order stopping the deduction of funds from the Federation Account for the funding of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund scheme.
The Rivers State Government had challenged the constitutionality and validity of section 4(1)(a) and section 4(1)(b) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act 2019, which permit the deduction of 0.5 percent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account and be paid to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.
The State Government had contended that it was not the responsibility of the State governments but that of the Federal Government to fund the Police.