S’Court Decides LG Autonomy Suit Thursday 

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

The Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Thursday decide whether local government councils in the country would begin to operate as a fully independent entity or remain as an appendage of state governors.

Although Nigeria operates a three-tier system of government; federal, state and local government, over the years the local governments seemed to have been subsumed into the state governments, with the states allegedly taking over the management of funds belonging to the councils.

The development, amongst others, led the Federal Government through the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) instituting legal action against the states at the apex court.

After hearing all arguments for and against the suit, the apex court had on June 13, announced that its judgment would be delivered on a date that would be communicated to parties.

After nearly one month after, the apex court is set to put to rest the issue of local governments autonomy.

The spokesman of the apex court, Dr Festus Akande, confirmed this to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday during the inauguration of 34 new justices of the Court of Appeal and High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to Akande, the judgment is ready and has been scheduled for delivery on Thursday, July 11.

The AGF and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had on behalf of the Federal Government sued the 36 states over the manner the governors are running the local councils.

In the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the AGF prayed the apex court for an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government executives.

At the hearing of the suit last month, the AGF, who informed the apex court that all the states have complied with its orders, urged the panel to discountenance the preliminary objection of the states to the suit and grant the reliefs sought from the court.

However, the defendants all argued otherwise and urged the panel to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

Fagbemi, in the originating summons, is praying the Supreme Court 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.

He also sought an order of the apex court stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the constitutionally recognized and guaranteed democratic system.

Besides, the Federal Government 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 benefits of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.

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