36 Governors Lose Out As Supreme Court Rules In Favour Of Federal Government

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that it is unconstitutional for state governors to withhold funds designated for local government administrations.

This landmark judgment, delivered on Thursday by Justice Emmanuel Agim, emphasized that the practice violates the financial autonomy rights of local governments and has persisted for over two decades.

In a significant victory for local governance, the apex court’s decision mandates that all allocations from the Federation Account should henceforth be paid directly to the 774 local government councils across the country, rather than being channeled through state governors.

Justice Agim, dismissing preliminary objections by the state governors, affirmed that local governments are entitled to manage their own funds independently.

The suit, initiated by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, sought to protect democratically elected councils from arbitrary dissolution by state governors, further strengthening the framework for local governance in Nigeria.

The federal government had been advocating for full autonomy for the 774 local governments in case SC/CV/343/2024.

Through Fagbemi, the federal government requested relief from the Supreme Court, seeking an order to restrain state governors from unilaterally, arbitrarily, and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government leaders within their states.

The originating summons, personally signed by the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, petitioned the Supreme Court for an order to allow the funds held in the credits of local governments to be directly allocated to them from the Federation Account, in accordance with constitutional provisions, rather than through the purported unlawful joint accounts established by governors

Additionally, the AGF requested an order from the Apex Court to prohibit governors from forming Caretaker Committees to administer the affairs of local governments, contrary to the constitutionally recognized and guaranteed democratic system.