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Supreme Court reserves judgment on FG’s local government autonomy suit

*A seven-member panel, led by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, announced that the judgment date will be communicated to all parties involved and their respective counsel.

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has reserved judgment in the suit filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on behalf of the Federal Government against several states concerning the dispute over the autonomy of local governments.

A seven-member panel, led by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, announced that the judgment date will be communicated to all parties involved and their respective counsel.

The apex court also bluntly refused to allow the State Houses of Assembly to be joined as defendants in the suit filed by the Federal Government against the 36 state governors seeking full autonomy for the 774 local governments in the country.

The court held that the Houses of Assembly have no business to be in the matter for reasons of law and jurisdiction.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, AGF, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had, on behalf of the Federal Government, initiated the legal action against the governors, primarily seeking full autonomy for local governments as the third tier of government in the country.

In the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the AGF is praying the Apex Court for an order restraining state governors from unilaterally, arbitrarily and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government councils.

The AGF, in the original summons which he personally signed, is also praying to the Supreme Court for an order to allow the funds in the appropriations of the local governments to be channelled directly to them from the Federation Account in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution against the alleged illegal joint accounts created by the governors.

He also sought the order of the Apex Court to prevent the governors from constituting inner committees to conduct the affairs of the local governments, against the democratically recognized and guaranteed system.

In addition, the Federal Government sought an order prohibiting governors, their agents and privies, from receiving, spending or handling funds released from the Federation Account for the benefit of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is in place.

The governors were sued through their respective state Attorneys General.

The suit is predicated on 27 grounds, which include the fact that the Federation of Nigeria is a creation of the 1999 Constitution, with the President as the head of the federal executive arm of the Federation and sworn to uphold and implement the provisions of the Constitution.

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