FG, States to Know Fate as Supreme Court Reserves Judgment on LG Autonomy

*Refuses to join state assemblies

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court yesterday reserved its judgment in the suit filed by the federal government, seeking the autonomy of Local Government Councils in the country.
A seven-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Garba Lawal made the announcement shortly after lawyers to the parties adopted their written addresses  for and against the federal government’s suit.

The apex court had on May 30, ordered the 36 state governors to file their respective defence in the suit within seven days and fixed June 13, for hearing.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (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 LGAs.
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.

When the matter came up yesterday, the AGF, who informed the apex court that all the states had 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.
Earlier, the apex court declined to entertain applications from Kebbi, Ondo and some other state Houses of Assembly, seeking to be joined as interested parties.
Justice Lawal had told Mr Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), who had announced appearance for the Speaker of the Kebbi State House of Assembly, that the apex court does not have jurisdiction to hear the application.

The position of the apex court shut out other applicants seeking to be joined.
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 recognised and guaranteed democratic system.
Besides, the federal government also 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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