Breaking: President Tinubu drags 36 Governors before Supreme Court, seeks autonomy for LGs

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), has instituted a suit on behalf of the Federal Government, before the Supreme Court, against the 36 state governors in the country while seeking full autonomy for local governments.

In a suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, which was obtained by our correspondent on Sunday, the AGF urged the apex court to issue an order, prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected LG leaders.

The suit which is predicted on 27 grounds, contended that Nigeria as a federation, is a creation of the 1999 Constitution with the President, as the head of the Federal Executive arm of the Federation, and has sworn to uphold and give effects to the provisions of the Constitution.

In the suit which accused the state governors of gross misconduct and abuse of power, the AGF sued them through their respective state Attorney-Generals.

Fagbemi prayed that the Supreme Court for an order to allow the credits of LGs to be directly paid to them from the Federation Account in line with the provisions of the Constitution as against the alleged unlawful joint accounts created by governors.

The minister 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 benefit of LGs.

The FG further sought an order stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of LGs as against the constitutionally-recognised and guaranteed democratic system.

In a 13-paragragh affidavit in support of the originating summons deposed to by one Kelechi Ohaeri from the Federal Ministry of Justice, averred that the AGF instituted the suit against the governors under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the FG.

The summon partly read, “That the governors represent the component states of the Federation with Executive Governors who have also sworn to uphold the Constitution and to at all times, give effects to the constitution and that the constitution, being the supreme law, has binding force all over the federation of Nigeria.

“That the constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, states and local governments as three tiers of government and that the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

“That by the provisions of the constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system and that the constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than the democratically elected local government system.”

It read further that “in the face of the clear provisions of the constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state,” adding that the “failure of the governors to put democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

“That all efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place, a democratically elected local government system, has not yielded any result and that to continue to disburse funds from the Federation Account to governors for non existing democratically elected local government is to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

“That in the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the federal government is not obligated under section 162 of the Constitution to pay any State, funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place.”

The AGF, on this ground, asked the apex court to invoke Sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that the state governors and State Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government in Nigeria and to also invoke the same sections to hold that the governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

The court fixed Thursday, May 30, 2024, for a hearing.

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