LG autonomy: Supreme Court withholds ruling

The Federal Government’s attorney-general and minister of justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), sued the 36 federation state governors, and the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgement.

The 774 local governments around the nation are to have complete autonomy under the lawsuit.

The Federal Government seeks, among other things, that the Supreme Court prohibit state governors from designating caretaker committees to oversee municipal governments inside their states.

The Federal Government has asked the Supreme Court to decide that any local government having a caretaker committee in place of elected councillors and a chairperson should have their funds from the Federation Account withheld.

It also wants the court to decide that funds from the Federation Account should flow straight to local governments instead than via the state government, therefore preserving their autonomy.

Justice Garba Lawal led the seven-man panel of the supreme court, which declared that parties in the case will be notified when the decision was ready after adopting their procedures.

All 36 states responded to the FG lawsuit by asking the court to dismiss it.

AGF, for his part, urged the supreme court to provide the federal government all of the relief it had requested.

I adopt and depend on these procedures, the AGF declared. I beg your Lords to ignore the several protests and issue the original summons.

Although several states argued they were not served and were not given a fair hearing, the AGF made it clear that he emailed and provided the defendants copies of the affidavits.

In addition, he claimed, the court bailiff served the defendants at their several Abuja state liaison offices.

In the lawsuit, the Federal Government is asking the Supreme Court to seek “an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary, and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders for local governments.”

In the complaint that was expected on 27 counts, the federal government charged the state governors with serious misbehaviour and abuse of authority.

The Federal Government asked the Supreme Court in the original summons to make a clear ruling that local governments should get money from the Federation Account directly, not via state governments.

The Federal Government further requested “an order stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the constitutionally recognised and guaranteed democratic system.”

As such, the AGF urged the Supreme Court to uphold sections 1, 4, 5, 7, and 14 of the Constitution in order to rule that the governors and state Houses of Assembly are required to guarantee a democratic system at the third level of government in Nigeria and to uphold the same sections in order to rule that the governors cannot legitimately dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

The dissolution of democratically elected local government councils by the governors or anyone using the state powers derivable from laws enacted by the state Houses of Assembly or any Executive Order is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void, he further urged us to declare in accordance with sections 1, 4, 5, 7, and 14 of the Constitution.

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