Supreme Court Reserves Judgment on LG Financial Autonomy Case


The Supreme Court of Nigeria has reserved judgment in a landmark case concerning the financial autonomy of the nation’s 774 local government areas. The case, brought by the Federal Government against the 36 state governments, seeks to enforce greater financial independence for local governments and address alleged abuses by state authorities.

The suit, filed by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), accuses state governments of stifling local governance by withholding funds and appointing caretaker committees in place of democratically elected councils. The Federal Government contends that these practices violate constitutional provisions mandating democratically elected local government systems and direct funding from the Federation Account.

During Thursday’s proceedings, the Supreme Court, led by Justice Garba Lawal, heard arguments from both sides. The Federal Government urged the court to prohibit state governors from appointing caretaker committees and to ensure that local governments receive their funds directly, bypassing state governments.

“The discontinuance of democratically elected local government councils and their replacement with caretaker committees undermines the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution,” argued the AGF. He called for an injunction to stop governors from dissolving elected councils and from tampering with funds designated for local governments.

Representing the state governments, the Attorneys General of the 36 states opposed the suit, arguing for its dismissal. They contended that they were not given a fair hearing and disputed the Federal Government’s claims of misconduct and abuse of power.

In response to claims of unfair hearing, the AGF clarified that the necessary legal documents had been served to the defendants through various channels, including WhatsApp, email, and direct service to state liaison offices in Abuja.

The Federal Government’s suit also includes a call for the Supreme Court to declare that any local government administered by a caretaker committee should have its funds from the Federation Account withheld. Additionally, it seeks a ruling that funds due to local governments should be paid directly to them, ensuring their financial independence.

The case has significant implications for local governance in Nigeria. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Federal Government, it could lead to a restructuring of local government funding and administration, promoting greater autonomy and potentially improving local governance.

Justice Garba Lawal announced that the court would communicate the date for judgment in due course, following the adoption of briefs by the parties involved.

The Supreme Court’s decision is eagerly awaited as it will set a crucial precedent for the interpretation of constitutional provisions regarding local government autonomy and could reshape the governance landscape in Nigeria.

Leave a Reply