Federal Government drags 36 governors to court

Supreme Court

The Federal Government has initiated legal proceedings against the Governors of the 36 States of the Federation at the Supreme Court concerning alleged misconduct in the management of Local Government Areas, LGAs.

The litigation, identified as SC/CV/343/2024, was instigated by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, with the objective of securing comprehensive autonomy for all LGAs in the nation as the third tier of government.

The government specifically requested the apex court to issue a directive preventing state governors from engaging in independent, capricious, and illegal dissolution of democratically elected local government leadership.

Furthermore, it called for an order authorizing the direct allocation of funds in the possession of local governments from the Federation Account to them in accordance with the stipulations of the Constitution, rather than the purportedly unlawful joint accounts established by governors.

The FG also implored the Supreme Court to issue an order prohibiting governors from establishing caretaker committees to administer the affairs of local governments in lieu of the Constitutionally approved and safeguarded democratic system.

It additionally sought an injunction restraining the governors, their representatives, and associates from receiving, utilizing, or interfering with funds disbursed from the Federation Account for the betterment of local governments in the absence of a democratically elected local government system being instituted in the states.

The Governors of the 36 States were named as defendants through their respective Attorneys General.

The Federal Government presented 27 arguments in support of the lawsuit, contending that Nigeria, as a federation, was established by the 1999 Constitution, as amended, with the President, as the Head of the Federal Executive Arm, pledging to uphold and implement the provisions of the Constitution.

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It told the apex court: “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 effect 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 recognizes federal, states and local governments as three tiers of government and that the three recognized tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.”

Consequently, the government urged the Supreme Court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7, and 14 of the Constitution to affirm that State Governors and State Houses of Assembly have a duty to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government in Nigeria and to declare that governors cannot legally dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

It further requested the application of sections 1, 4, 5, 7, and 14 of the Constitution to rule that the dissolution of democratically elected local government Councils by the Governors or any individual utilizing state powers derived from laws enacted by the State Houses of Assembly or any Executive Order is illicit, unconstitutional, null, and void.

In a 13-paragraph affidavit sworn by Kelechi Ohaeri from the Federal Ministry of Justice, the AGF disclosed that he filed the lawsuit under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the FG.

The affiant asserted that the local government system acknowledged by the Constitution consists of democratically elected local government councils, emphasizing that the funds owed to local government Councils from the Federation Account should be directed to the local government system recognized by the constitution.

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