Supreme Court decides FG suit against govs today

The Supreme Court will today (Thursday) deliver judgment in the suit instituted by the Federal Government against the 36 state governors of the federation on local government autonomy.

The suit filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), is seeking full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local governments in the country.

It is praying the apex court to make an order that funds of LG being run by caretakers appointed by governors instead elected chairmen and councillors should be withheld.

But the 36 states, represented by their attorneys general, opposed the suit on various grounds, including their contention that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal, heard the suit on June 13 and had reserved judgment.

While Fagbemi represented the Federal Government in the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the state governors were represented by their AGs or lawyers.

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All the states opposed the suit and prayed the Supreme Court to dismiss it.

The AGF on his part, asked the apex court to grant all the reliefs sought by the Federal Government and grant the local governments full autonomy as the third tier of government in Nigeria as stipulated in the 1999 constitution.

The AGF prayed the court to order direct allocation of funds from the federation account to the local governments.

He seeks an order prohibiting the unlawful dissolution of local government administration and the state governors’ appointment of caretaker committees to run the councils.

The suit is hinged on 27 grounds that the Constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, state and local government as three tiers of government.

It also averred that the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the federation account created by the constitution.

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The originating summons read, “That by the provisions of the constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system and that the constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than the democratically elected local government system.

“That in the face of the clear provisions of the constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

“That the failure of the governors to put democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

“That all efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place a democratically elected local government system has not yielded any result and that to continue to disburse funds from the federation account to governors for non-existing democratically elected local governments is to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 constitution.”

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The AGF asked the apex court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that the governors and state houses of assembly are under obligation to ensure democratically elected systems at the third tier.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Local Government Employees said it would hold a national day of prayer and fasting towards victory for LG autonomy at the Supreme Court today.

The National President of NULGE, Hakeem Ambali, made this known in a text message sent to one of our correspondents on Wednesday.

“NULGE declares tomorrow (today) a day of national prayer and fasting towards victory for local government autonomy at Supreme Court,” the message read.

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