Court halts FG’s deduction of state allocation for Police Trust Fund

NEWS DIGEST – The Federal High Court, Abuja has declared as unconstitutional and unlawful, deductions made by the Federal Government from the Federation Account for funding of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund scheme.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed said this while delivering judgment on Wednesday in a suit filed by the Rivers Government against the Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice and the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Other joined in the suit are the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, and Federal Ministry of Finance as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.

Rivers Government, through it’s Attorney-General had approached the court seeking an order stopping the deduction of funds from the federation account for the funding of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund scheme.

By an originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/511/2020, dated and filed on May 20, 2020, Rivers government 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 permits the deduction of 0.5 per cent of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account and to be paid to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.

The Rivers government argued that it was not the responsibility of the State governments but that of the Federal Government to fund the Police.

In his judgment, Justice Mohammed agreed with the Rivers 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 judge consequently 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.”

The court granted six of the plaintiffs’ prayers while reliefs 6 and 8, which sought for refunds of the deductions, were granted only to Rivers government.

The judge said it was only Rivers that would benefit from the refund and not the 35 states since the court was not a “Father Christmas” that granted what was not sought.