June 13, 2024

LG autonomy: Supreme Court reserves judgement on FG’s suit against 36 govs

Breaking: Senate confirms 11 Supreme Court Justices

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja

The Supreme Court has reserved its judgement on the suit the Federal Government filed to secure full autonomy for the 774 local governments, LGs, in the country.

A seven-man panel of the court, led by Justice Garba Lawal, on Thursday, okayed the matter for judgement. This was after governors of the 36 states of the Federation, through their respective attorney-generals, adopted their briefs of argument.

The states, in separate preliminary objections they filed before the apex court, sought the dismissal of the suit with substantial cost.

They contended that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who initiated the action on behalf of the Government, lacked the locus standi (legal right) to do so.

The defendants further alleged that the AGF breached their right to a fair hearing when he failed to serve them with a copy of a further affidavit he filed in support of the suit.

Besides, some of the states argued that they already have democratically elected local government officials in place. They insisted that the suit by FG amounted to an abuse of the judicial process.

… judgement day

After it had listened to all the parties, the Justice Lawal-led panel said it would communicate the judgement date to them.

The Federal Government had in the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, prayed the Supreme Court to okay full autonomy for all the local governments, LGs, in the country as the third tier of government.

It prayed the court to issue an order, prohibiting state governors from embarking on unilateral, arbitrary, and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders.

As well as for an order permitting the funds standing in the credits of local governments to be directly channelled to them from the Federation Account in line with the provisions of the Constitution as against the alleged unlawful joint accounts created by governors.

Besides, FG prayed the Supreme Court for an order stopping governors from further constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the constitutionally-recognized and guaranteed democratic system.

It equally applied for an order of injunction, restraining the governors, their agents and privies, from receiving, spending or tampering with funds released from the Federation Account for the benefit of local governments, when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.

FG argued that Nigeria, as a federation, was a creation of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, with the President, as Head of the Federal Executive Arm, swearing on oath to uphold and give effects to provisions of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, on Thursday, rejected applications that Speakers of Houses of Assembly of some of the states filed to be joined as interested parties in the LG autonomy matter.

Vanguard News