• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Supreme Court gives states seven days to file defence in LG autonomy suit

Supreme Court gives states seven days to file defence in LG autonomy suit

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has given the 36 states of the federation seven days to file their defences in the suit filed by the federal government seeking full autonomy for the 774 local government areas (LGAs).

The apex court also ordered Lateef Fagbemi, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice to file his response within two days upon receipt of the governors’ defences.

The AGF, in the suit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, is praying the apex Court for an order prohibiting state governors from unilaterally, arbitrarily, and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government leaders.

The apex court issued the order on Thursday while ruling on an application for an abridgement of time argued by the AGF during a hearing on the suit.

Eight out of the 36 States of the federation including Borno, Kano, Kogi, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Sokoto were absent at the hearing, but no explanations were offered for their absence.

Read also: LG autonomy: FG sued Lagos in error – Sanwo-Olu

The Court ordered that the eight states must be served with fresh hearing notice, and subsequently fixed June 13 for hearing of the suit.

The AGF in the suit is also praying to the Supreme Court for an order permitting funds allocated to local governments to be directly transferred from the federation account to the LGAs, as stipulated by the constitution, instead of being funnelled through allegedly unlawful joint accounts created by the governors.

The AGF also seeks an order preventing governors from establishing caretaker committees to manage LGAs, insisting on adherence to the constitutionally mandated democratic system.

Additionally, the AGF is requesting an injunction to prevent governors and their representatives from receiving, spending, or interfering with funds designated for local governments from the federation account in the absence of a democratically elected local government system in the states.

The suit underscores that all previous efforts to ensure governors comply with the 1999 constitution’s requirement for democratically elected local governments have been unsuccessful. It argues that continuing to disburse funds to governors for LGAs without elected officials undermines the constitution’s integrity. Consequently, the Federal Government contends that, under Section 162 of the constitution, it is not obligated to release funds to any state lacking a democratically elected local government system.