LG autonomy: Supreme court reserves judgment on FG’s suit against state govs

By Innocent Raphael

The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment on a significant lawsuit filed by the Federal Government against the governors of the 36 states, concerning alleged misconduct in the administration of Local Government Areas (LGAs).

The lawsuit, initiated by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, seeks to secure full autonomy for all local government areas across Nigeria.

The Federal Government is requesting the Supreme Court to issue an order prohibiting state governors from unilaterally and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government leaders.

The suit which joins the respective Attorneys General of the 36 states as defendants, is also requesting that funds designated for local governments be directly channeled to them from the federation account.

This request is based on allegations that governors have unlawfully created joint accounts to control these funds.

Moreover, the Federal Government is asking the court to stop governors from establishing caretaker committees to run local governments, insisting on adherence to the constitutionally guaranteed democratic system.

An injunction is also sought to prevent governors and their agents from handling local government funds when no democratically elected local government system is in place.

Supporting its suit with 27 grounds, the Federal Government argued that the 1999 Constitution, as amended, establishes Nigeria as a federation with three tiers of government: federal, state, and local.

Each tier is constitutionally mandated to receive operational funds from the federation account.

The Federal Government contends that the constitution requires a democratically elected local government system and does not provide for any alternative governance structures at the local level.

It alleges that governors have deliberately failed to establish such systems, thereby violating the constitution they swore to uphold.

Despite efforts to compel compliance, the Federal Government asserts that the governors have not implemented democratically elected local government systems, undermining the 1999 Constitution.

Consequently, the Federal Government argues that it is not constitutionally obligated to disburse funds to states that do not have democratically elected local governments.

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