LG Autonomy: It’s legal anomaly for FG to sue Lagos- Sanwo-Olu

By Adeola Ogunrinde

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has faulted the Federal Government for dragging the State to court over Local Government autonomy.

Sanwo-Olu said it was a legal anomaly for the Federal Government to join Lagos in the Suit, stating that Local Governments have been enjoying full autonomy in the State for decades.

The Governor made these assertions on Monday at the on-going Justice Reform Summit organised by Lagos State Judiciary with the theme: “Enhancing the Administration of Justice for Economic Growth, Investment Protection and Security in Lagos”.

WESTERN POST had reported that the Federal Government sued Sanwo-Olu and the remaining 35 governors for infringing on local government autonomy in the federation.

Sanwo-Olu said the Attorney General of the Federation should have identified States that were not in compliance with the law before filing a blanket lawsuit against all governors.

The Governor acknowledged that the infringement on the local council autonomy was an affront to the spirit of the constitution, adding that the judiciary must make a clear interpretation for equity and fairness.

He said a better justice system would protect the interests of parties and discourage actions limiting efficiency of any government entity.

Sanwo-Olu said: “It is interesting to read the news that the Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation has sued all the 36 states because Governors did not give autonomy to the third tier of government. The only mistake, which I am going to tell our Attorney General, is that some of us are in compliance.

“The Attorney General should have done his due diligence to identify which states are not in compliance, so that we don’t sue all the 36 states together. You can determine which states are not violating the Constitution. If it is three, four or five states are in compliance, then you can sue the 31 states violating autonomy of the Local Governments. That is part of the back work that we need to do.”

Sanwo-Olu said the judicial reform must remain on the agenda in a functional society in order to improve administration of the justice system and make the court the last hope of the common man.

The Governor said the judiciary in Lagos had remained a beacon in protecting the rule of law and setting good examples for other jurisdictions in dispensation of justice.

He challenged judges and law officers to change the status quo in order to raise the standard of the justice system.

Sanwo-Olu said Lagos needed strong judicial system to attain all its investment potential, while promoting transparency and accountability.

The Governor urged the Bench and the Bar to collaborate to promote an efficient justice system.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Kayode Ariwoola, represented by Justice Iyabode Yerima of the Supreme Court, hailed Lagos judicial system for being “a forerunner” in justice development, stressing that other jurisdictions usually borrowed from examples set by Lagos.

The CJN listed some of landmark examples set by Lagos judiciary in the justice system to include Administration of Criminal Justice laws, which after implementation, set the template for the designing of Criminal Justice Act at the National Assembly.

Fagbemi, SAN, represented by Mr. Fernandez Marcos-Obiene, said robust and transparent reforms embarked on by Lagos in the justice system had promoted economic growth, pledging that the Federal Government would continue to provide platforms for reforms that would improve public trust in the judiciary.

Chief Justice of Lagos, Justice Kazeem Alogba, commended Sanwo-Olu for his non-interference stance in judicial matters in Lagos.

Alogba said: ”No society thrives without robust justice system. The essence of any society is to have justice, without which there will be no peace and order. Security is an integral element of a robust justice system. When you have judges who are incompetent and corrupt in the system, the society will suffer for it.”

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