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The Supreme Court has deferred its decision in the federal government’s lawsuit seeking autonomy for local governments.



The Supreme Court has reserved judgment in the suit of the Federal Government against the 36 state governors seeking full autonomy for the 774 local governments in the country.

Justice Garba Lawal announced on Thursday that parties in the matter would be communicated once the judgment is ready.

He announced the reservation of the judgment after the seven-man panel of the apex court adopted processes filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, on behalf of the Federal Government, and those of the 36 state governors.

At Thursday’s proceedings, the AGF asked the court to grant all the reliefs sought by the Federal Government in the suit.

The governors, through their respective state Attorneys General and Commissioners for Justice, however, opposed the request of the Federal Government and asked the court to dismiss the suit.

Fagbemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had, on behalf of the Federal Government, initiated the legal action against the governors, primarily seeking full autonomy for local governments as the three tiers of government in the country.

The AGF is praying to the apex court for an order restraining state governors from unilaterally and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government leaders, among others.

Meanwhile, Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo has said that any form of autonomy for local government areas in the country is against the tenets of true federalism.

Soludo, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2004 to 2009, spoke at The Platform Nigeria, a programme by Lagos-based church Covenant Nation, to mark 2024 Democracy Day.

He said, “Funny enough, more recently, some people are arguing for the autonomy of local governments, including some APC persons, which would take Nigeria back many decades from what a true federation is about.

“There is no federal system in the world where you have three federal units. In the countries in America where we copied democracy, their local governments don’t go to the centre to collect money directly.

“Each state must have the power to design the kind of local government system they want. That is what true federalism is about.”

Soludo said the Federal Government should give some of the responsibilities on the Exclusive List to sub-nationals.

“We need to tinker with the fiscal powers of the federal and state governments, devolve much of the responsibilities under the Exclusive List to the states, and allocate about 60 to 65 percent of the revenues to the states, with each deciding on the local system to adopt.

“Why not consolidate the National Assembly into one with no more than five representatives per state? We don’t need a national assembly costing over N300 billion a year to maintain. We don’t need it,” he said.

The event with the theme ‘Democracy and the Free Market Economy’ featured former Minister of Works Babatunde Fashola; the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah; and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, among others.

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