JUST IN: Supreme Court grants LGs financial autonomy

By Nudoiba Ojen

* It’s illegal, unconstitutional for governors to continue to receive, seize funds allocated to LGAs in their states

* Appointment of caretaker committees by governors to run the affairs of the LGAs unconstitutional

THE SUPREME COURT has granted financial autonomy to the local governments.

In its lead judgment read by Justice Emmanuel Agim on Thursday, the Apex court declared that it is unconstitutional for state governors to hold funds allocated to local government administrations.

The Supreme Court said that the 774 local government councils in the country should manage their funds themselves.

The Supreme Court barred the 36 governors of the federation from further retaining or utilizing funds that are meant for the 774 Local Government Areas, LGAs, in the country.

The apex court ruled that it is illegal and unconstitutional for governors to continue to receive and seize funds allocated to LGAs in their states.

It maintained that the “dubious practice” which has gone on for over two decades, was a clear violation of Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The apex court held that no House of Assembly of any state has the power to make laws that could, in any manner, interfere with monies meant for the LGAs.

Stressing that the law mandated that LGAs must be governed by democratically elected officials, the Supreme Court ordered that forthwith, funds meant for the LGAs must be directly paid to them from the federation account.

“Demands of justice require a progressive interpretation of the law. It is the position of this court that the federation can pay LGA allocations to the LGAs directly or pay them through the states.

“In this case, since paying them through states has not worked, justice of this case demands that LGA allocations from the federation account should henceforth be paid directly to the LGAs,” the apex court held.

It further declared unconstitutional the appointment of caretaker committees by governors to run the affairs of the LGAs.

It held that the 36 states are under obligation to ensure democratic governance at the third tier of government.

The judgement followed a suit the Federal Government filed to secure financial autonomy for the LGAs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *