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LG Administration: Supreme Court Judgement An Assault On True Federalism – Ibori Faults FG’s Suit

July 11, (THEWILL) – Former governor of Delta State James Ibori, has described the Thursday ruling by the Supreme Court on local government autonomy as an “assault on true federalism”.

THEWILL earlier reported that the apex court had declared that it is unconstitutional for state governors to hold onto funds meant for local government administrations. The court also, barred governors from dissolving democratically elected local government councils in the country, saying it would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution.

In the lead judgement read by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the court said the 774 local government councils in the country should manage their funds themselves and that only democratically elected local government administrations are entitled to these funds, not caretaker committees.

The suit was filed by the attorney general of the federation, Lateef Fagbemi, on behalf of the Federal Government.

THEWILL recalls that the State Governors in separate preliminary objections filed before the apex court, had sought the dismissal of the suit. They contended that the AGF, who initiated the action on behalf of the Federal Government, lacked the locus standi (legal right) to do so.

However, the apex court dismissed the preliminary objection and held that the AGF acted within its Constitutional rights to file the suit.

Reacting to the judgement, Ibori in a post on his social media, said the Supreme Court misinterpreted the law and has granted the Federal Government even more power.

He said, “The Supreme Court has dealt a severe setback on the principle of federalism as defined by section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The section expressly provides thus: ‘Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the Federal and State Governments and the Local Government Councils in each State on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly’.

“Sections 6 provide further clarity on the subject matter (6) Each State shall maintain a special account to be called ‘State Joint Local Government Account’ into which shall be paid all allocations to the Local Government Councils of the State from the Federation Account and the Government of the State.

“The court’s ruling on the matter is an assault on true federalism. The federal government has no right to interfere with the administration of Local Governments under any guise whatsoever. There are only two tiers of government in a federal system of government.

“I’m opposed to fiddling with the allocations to the Joint LG Accounts at the state level but that in itself does not call for this death knell to the clear provisions of section 162 of the constitution.”

He listed what he considers the implications of the ruling as constitutional misinterpretation, imbalance of power, erosion of state autonomy, the potential use of financial independence for political leverage, and precedent for further federal interventions.

“It is my sincere hope that the judgement delivered today will be reviewed at the earliest time possible because it stands the concept of federalism on its head”, added.

 

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