Dismiss FG’s suit on LG autonomy, Kwara Govt. tells Supreme Court 

By Innocent Raphael

The Kwara State Government has called on the Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Federal Government seeking full autonomy for the country’s 774 Local Government Councils.

In legal documents filed with the apex court, Kwara’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Senior Ibrahim-Sulyman, argued that the federal government’s demands would further impoverish many Nigerians in local government areas.

This stance was detailed in a counter-affidavit to the federal government’s originating summons, obtained on Tuesday in Abuja.

The state attorney-general has requested the Supreme Court to reject the federal government’s suit, emphasizing that such a move is necessary for justice.

The federal government had earlier initiated legal action against the attorneys general of the 36 states, citing alleged misconduct in local government administration.

The suit, filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), seeks to prohibit state governors from unilaterally dissolving elected local government leaders and to ensure local governments receive their funds directly from the Federation Account.

Fagbemi asked the court to prevent states from using Transitional Implementation Committees to manage local governments and to mandate the direct allocation of funds to local councils, as per the Constitution.

Kwara’s AG countered that the federal government’s position contradicts the Constitution, specifically Sections 162 (6) and (8), which state that local government funds should be allocated to the state and then distributed by the state’s House of Assembly.

He cited a previous Supreme Court ruling in a similar case involving Abia State and the federal government, which confirmed that direct allocation to local councils by the National Assembly is not permitted.

Ibrahim-Sulyman further contended that the federal government is overstepping its role by attempting to perform legislative functions. He suggested that the proper course of action would be to pursue a constitutional amendment rather than seeking judicial intervention.

The Kwara AG also addressed allegations that the state had failed to disburse local government funds, asserting that all funds are released monthly for local government use.

He clarified that local elections were delayed due to ongoing litigation but are scheduled for September 21, 2024.

Similarly, Ibrahim-Sulyman cited a precedent involving former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, where the Supreme Court ruled that the President cannot withhold statutory allocations.

 He concluded by urging the Supreme Court to affirm that the federal government lacks the authority to withhold local government funds from the states.

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