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Supreme Court Grants LG Financial Autonomy …bars FG from paying allocations to LGs with unelected officials

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The Supreme Court today  declared that it is unconstitutional for state governors to hold funds allocated for local government administrations.

The seven-man panel, in the judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, declared that the 774 local government councils in the country should manage their funds themselves.

The apex court held that the power of the government is portioned into three arms of government, the federal, the state and the local government.

The court further declared that a state government has no power to elect a caretaker committee and a local government council is only recognisable with a democratically elected government.

“A democratically elected local government is sacrosanct and non-negotiable,” the court said.

The court ruled that state governments are perpetuating a dangerous trend by refusing to allow democratically elected local government councils to function, instead appointing their loyalists who can only be removed by them.

Justice Agim dismissed the objections filed by state governors.

The court orders the Federal Government to henceforth withhold allocations to Local Governments governed by unelected officials appointed by the Governor.

The apex court also barred the Federal Government from further paying LG allocations through the State Governments since the practice has been abused by Governors, who retain the funds and utilise them as they please to the detriment of the LGAd for which the monies are meant.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Federal Government, seeking to grant full autonomy and direct funding to all 774 local government councils in the country.

The 36 state governments, through their attorneys general, filed a counterclaim, arguing that the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case.

In today’s ruling, Justice Agim affirmed that the AGF has the legal authority to initiate the lawsuit and uphold the constitution.

Justice Agim said, “I hold that the plaintiff’s request is hereby approved and all the reliefs granted.”

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