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July 11, 2024

6 key takeaways as Supreme Court bars 36 govs from retaining LG funds

LGs autonomy

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has issued a landmark ruling barring the 36 state governors from retaining or utilizing funds allocated for the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Key highlights of the ruling include:

Unconstitutional Practice: The court declared that it is illegal and unconstitutional for governors to continue receiving and seizing funds allocated to LGAs, a practice ongoing for over two decades.

Violation of the Constitution: The apex court found that this practice violates Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Direct Payment of Funds: The court ordered that funds meant for LGAs must be paid directly from the federation account to the LGAs, rather than through the states.

Democratic Governance Mandate: The court emphasized that LGAs must be governed by democratically elected officials, declaring the appointment of caretaker committees by governors to run LGA affairs as unconstitutional.

Obligation of States: The ruling underscores that the 36 states are obligated to ensure democratic governance at the third tier of government.

Dismissal of Governors’ Objections: The court dismissed the preliminary objections filed by state governors challenging the competence of the suit filed by the Federal Government to secure financial autonomy for the LGAs.

The Ruling:

Justice Emmanuel Agim delivered the lead judgment, emphasizing a progressive interpretation of the law to achieve justice.

In its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Agim, the apex court held that no House of Assembly of any state has the power to make laws that could, in any manner, interfere with monies meant for the LGAs.

Stressing that the law mandated that LGAs must be governed by democratically elected officials, the Supreme Court ordered that forthwith, funds meant for the LGAs must be directly paid to them from the federation account.

“Demands of justice require a progressive interpretation of the law. It is the position of this court that the federation can pay LGA allocations to the LGAs directly or pay them through the states.

“In this case, since paying them through states has not worked, justice of this case demands that LGA allocations from the federation account should henceforth be paid directly to the LGAs,” the apex court held.

It further declared unconstitutional the appointment of caretaker committees by governors to run the affairs of the LGAs.

It held that the 36 states are under obligation to ensure democratic governance at the third tier of government.

The judgement followed a suit the Federal Government filed to secure financial autonomy for the LGAs.

Earlier, the court dismissed preliminary objections the state governors filed to challenge the competence of the suit.

Vanguard News