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FG sues 36 state Governors over LGs misconduct

The Federal Government has filed a lawsuit against the Governors of all 36 states at the Supreme Court, alleging misconduct in the administration of Local Government Areas (LGAs).

The lawsuit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, was initiated by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN. The government is seeking full autonomy for all LGAs, establishing them as the third tier of government.

The suit specifically requests that the Supreme Court issue an order preventing state governors from unilaterally and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government leadership.

Additionally, the government seeks an order to ensure that funds allocated to local governments are directly transferred from the Federation Account, in accordance with constitutional provisions, rather than through the joint accounts allegedly created unlawfully by governors.

The Federal Government also asks the Supreme Court to prohibit governors from forming caretaker committees to manage local governments, which is contrary to the constitutionally guaranteed democratic system.

An injunction is also sought to restrain governors, their agents, and privies from receiving, spending, or tampering with funds from the Federation Account intended for local governments when no democratically elected local government system is in place.

The 36 State Governors were sued through their respective Attorneys General.

In the 27 grounds supporting the suit, the Federal Government argued that Nigeria’s federal system was established by the 1999 Constitution, as amended, with the President and state Governors sworn to uphold and implement its provisions.

The government asserted to the Supreme Court: “Governors represent the component states of the Federation, with Executive Governors having sworn to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution, being the supreme law, is binding across Nigeria.

“The Constitution recognizes federal, state, and local governments as the three tiers of government. These tiers draw funds for their operations from the Federation Account established by the Constitution.”

Therefore, the Federal Government asked the Supreme Court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7, and 14 of the Constitution to declare that State Governors and State Houses of Assembly are obligated to maintain a democratic system at the third tier of government. It also requested the court to hold that governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

The Federal Government further requested the court to declare that any dissolution of democratically elected local government councils by governors or through powers derived from state laws or Executive Orders is unlawful, unconstitutional, null, and void.

In a 13-paragraph affidavit by Kelechi Ohaeri from the Federal Ministry of Justice, the AGF stated that he filed the suit under the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction on behalf of the Federal Government. The affidavit asserts that the constitutionally recognized local government system consists of democratically elected councils and that funds due to local governments from the Federation Account should be paid to this system.

The Supreme Court has scheduled the hearing for May 30.

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