Future of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund threatened as Federal High Court declares deductions illegal, unconstitutional, orders refund to Rivers State Government

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Direct allocations made by the federal government from the federation account to fund the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, have been declared illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional by a court of law.

Direct allocations made by the federal government from the federation account to fund the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, have been declared illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional by a court of law.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court Abuja made the declaration, yesterday, and barred the federal government from further deductions from the federation account to fund agencies not listed in the 1999 Constitution for direct allocation.

In a suit, filed b by the Rivers State Government, challenging the continued deductions from the federation account to fund agencies belonging to the federal government, the court, in the judgment, held that Section 161 and Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution were glaringly breached by the federal government following the direct allocation from the federation account to the Police Trust Fund.

The court held that Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution was clear and unambiguous to the effect that only the federal, states and local governments shall be allocated fund directly from the federation account.

The court also held that Section 4 of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act 2019 relied upon by the federal government to justify the unlawful deductions from the federation account was inconsistent with section 162 of the 1999 Constitution which recognizes only the federal, states and local governments.

Justice Mohammed, while upholding the suit by Rivers State against the deductions, ordered that the fund belonging to Rivers State but used to fund the Nigeria Police Trust fund by the federal government should be refunded to the state.

Rivers State in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/511/2020 and instituted on its behalf by former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Daudu, had challenged the decision of the federal government to allocate funds directly from the federation account to fund some of its agencies, stating that the decision violates section 162 of the 1999 Constitution.

The Rivers State government also stated that the actions of the federal government deprived it substantial revenue from the federation account and, therefore, prayed the court to nullify the allocation from the federation account.

The Rivers State Government also claimed that the levies imposed on companies operating in Nigeria by the federal government, be paid directly to the Nigeria Police Force Trust Fund, instead of the federation account was also illegal.

The judge agreed with the plaintiff that under the relevant laws, such levies were supposed to be paid directly to the federation account and not to any federal government agencies.

The judge held, “I have carefully perused the issues raised by the plaintiff and I agree that no other person or entity is permitted to benefit from direct fund allocation from the federation account.

“Section 4 of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act 2019 relied upon by the defendant to make direct fund allocation from the Federation Account is untenable as it runs contrary to section 162 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, which expressly stated that the federal government, state governments and local governments shall derive direct fund allocation from the federation account.”

Defendant in the matter were the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF); Accountant General of the Federation; Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission and Minister of Finance.

However only the Attorney General of the Federation filled processes to defend the federal government’s action.

The AGF had in his preliminary objection asked the Federal High Court to decline jurisdiction in the matter on the ground that such suit ought to be filed directly at the Supreme Court.

However, the preliminary objection was dismissed by Mohammed on the ground that it was misplaced and absurd.

In hailing the ruling, Governor Wike said, “We are happy that the court has said that they should refund us all the money deducted and, luckily, the principal parties, Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission, the Accountant General, Attorney General Office, they are all involved in the case.

“It is not about Rivers State, but it is about the impunity, it is about the violation of the constitution, as if anybody can wake up one early morning and just decide to do one or two things, which is wrong. And I am happy that the decision we took, we are not wrong and I thank my legal team.”

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