S’Court reserves judgment in FG’s LG autonomy suit

  • Declines invitation to join state assemblies

The Supreme Court has reserved judgment in a constitutional lawsuit by the Federal Government seeking full financial autonomy for the 774 local governments in the country.

The apex court reserved judgment in the matter on a day it rejected an invitation by the state houses of assembly to join as defendants in the suit.

The 36 states of the federation are the defendants in the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024.

The governors were sued through their respective state Attorneys General.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) applied on behalf of the Speaker of Kebbi State House of Assembly to be joined as a party in the matter.

But the apex court held that the Houses of Assembly have no business to be in the matter for reasons of law and jurisdiction.

The states, which were represented in court by their attorneys-general and lawyers, thereafter, adopted their respective processes and prayed the court to dismiss the suit.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, AGF, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) had, on behalf of the Federal Government, initiated the legal action against the governors, primarily seeking full autonomy for local governments as the third tier of government.

The AGF, in the original summons which he personally signed, is praying the apex court for an order restraining state governors from unilaterally, arbitrarily and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government councils.

He is also praying the Supreme Court for an order to allow the funds in the appropriations of the local governments to be channelled directly to them from the Federation Account in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution against the alleged illegal joint accounts created by the governors.

He also sought the order of the apex court to prevent the governors from constituting inner committees to conduct the affairs of the local governments, against the democratically recognized and guaranteed system.

The Federal Government is also seeking an order prohibiting governors, their agents and privies, from receiving, spending or handling funds released from the Federation Account for the benefit of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is in place.

The suit is predicated on 27 grounds, which include the fact that the Federation of Nigeria is a creation of the 1999 Constitution, with the President as the head of the federal executive arm of the Federation and sworn to uphold and implement the provisions of the Constitution.

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