LG Autonomy: S’Court gives states 7 days to file a defence

LG Autonomy: S’Court gives states 7 days to file a defence

…fixes June 13 for hearing

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, ordered the Governors of the 36 States of the Federation, to within seven days, enter their defence to the suit the Federal Government filed to secure full autonomy for the 774 Local Government Areas, LGAs.

The order followed an application that FG, through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, for accelerated hearing of the matter and for the abridgment of the time allowed for all state governors to file their response to the suit.

In its ruling, a seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Garba Lawal, said the AGF should upon receipt of the processes containing defence of the governors, respond to it within two days.

The panel fixed June 13 to commence full-blown hearing of the matter.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the body of Attorneys General of the States, Mr. Ben Odoh, who is the Attorney General of Ebonyi State, was present during the proceeding.

Mr. Odoh told the apex court that he was not opposed to the request for the abridgment of the hearing date.

However, he requested for the respondents to be allowed to file their defence to the matter, within 15 days.

While declining to extend the time for the respondents, Justice Lawal said the decision of the apex court was hinged on the fact that the matter is of utmost national importance as well as the urgency of the case.

The court directed that filing of all processes and exchanging of same must be completed before the next adjourned date.

Those that had no legal representation even though they were served with the hearing notice, were the Attorneys General of Borno, Kano, Kogi, Niger, Ogun, Osun , Oyo and Sokoto states.

The Justice Lawal-led panel orders that they should be served with a fresh hearing notice to enable them to attend the next sitting.

FG had in the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, prayed the Supreme Court to okay full autonomy for all the LGAs in the country as the third tier of government.

It prayed the court to issue an order, prohibiting state governors from embarking on unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders.

As well as for an order permitting the funds standing in the credits of local governments to be directly channeled to them from the Federation Account in line with the provisions of the Constitution as against the alleged unlawful joint accounts created by governors.

Besides, FG, prayed the Supreme Court for an order, stopping governors from further constituting Caretaker Committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the Constitutionally recognized and guaranteed democratic system.

It equally applied for an order of injunction, restraining the governors, their agents and privies, from receiving, spending or tampering with funds released from the Federation Account for the benefits of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.

Governors of the 36 States were sued through their respective Attorneys General.

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