Autonomy: FG Drags 36 Governors To Supreme Court Over Local Govts Bill

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THE Federal Government has dragged the 36 state governors before the Supreme Court seeking full autonomy for local government areas in the country.

The government accused the governor’s of misusing local government allocations.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), instituted the case on behalf of the federal government in the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024.

The FG is praying the Apex Court for an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local governments.

The Governors were sued through their respective Attorneys General.

The government listed 27 grounds for determination arguing that the governors represent the component states of the Federation with Executive Governors, who have also sworn to uphold the Constitution and to at all times, give effect to the Constitution.

He further argued that the Constitution, being the supreme law, has binding force all over the Federation of Nigeria using the 1999 constitution as amended.

It said, “That the Constitution of Nigeria recognizes federal, state and local governments as three tiers of government and that the three recognized tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

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“That by the provisions of the Constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system and that the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than the democratically elected local government system.

“That, in the face of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

“That the failure of the governors to put democratically elected local government system in place, is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

“That all efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place, a democratically elected local government system, has not yielded any result and that to continue to disburse funds from the Federation Account to governors for non existing democratically elected local government is to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

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“That in the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the federal government is not obligated under section 162 of the Constitution to pay any State, funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place.”

The FG through its prayers seeks the invocation of sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that the State Governors and State Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government in Nigeria.

Consequently, arising from such invocation being a shared federation as derived from the constitution, the FG is seeking the same sections to provide and stop the governors from dissolving democratically elected local government councils.

It also seeks invocation of sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that 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.

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The suit, which was filed under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court according to the Attorney General was deposed to by one Kelechi Ohaeri from the Federal Ministry of Justice.

In a 13-paragraph affidavit, the deponent averred that the local government system recognised by the Constitution is a democratically elected local government councils.

According to the AGF, the amount due to local government Councils from the Federation Account is to be paid to local government systems recognised by the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has fixed May 30 for hearing.

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