• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Supreme Court reserves judgement in LG autonomy suit

Let the third tier breathe: Implications of the Supreme Court verdict

The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on the Federal Government’s suit seeking full autonomy for Nigeria’s 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) Supreme Court gives states seven days to file a defence in an LG autonomy suit.

During proceedings on Thursday, a seven-man panel led by Justice Garba Lawal declared the matter ready for judgment after hearing arguments from the governors of the 36 states, represented by their respective attorneys general.

The states argued that Lateef Fagbemi Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice lacked the legal standing to initiate the action on behalf of the Federal Government.

They also argued that the AGF violated their right to a fair hearing by failing to serve them with a copy of a further affidavit supporting the suit, and urged the dismissal of the suit.

After considering all submissions, the judge said that the judgment date would be communicated to the parties involved.

Read also LG autonomy critical to address insecurity, development — RMAFC boss

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 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.