Governors lose as Supreme Court orders direct payment of allocations to local govts

The Supreme Court on Thursday, ruled that the Federal Government should henceforth pay allocations directly to local governments from the federation account.

A seven-member panel of Justices of the Supreme Court delivered the judgement, in a suit filed by the federal government. The apex court held that state governments have persistently abused their powers by withholding funds meant for local governments.

The highest court in the country also ordered the federal government to hold on to allocations meant for local councils which are being governed by officials selected by governors.

Emmanuel Aji, who read the lead judgment, said states are mandated to ensure that their local government councils are democratically elected, ⁠and that governors cannot use their powers to dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

“The amount standing to the credit of local government councils must be paid by the federation to the local government councils and not by any other person or body,” the judge said.

“The said amount must be paid to local government councils that are democratically elected.

“An order of injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendants from collecting funds belonging to the local government councils when no democratically elected local government councils are in place.

“An order that henceforth no state government should be paid monies standing to the credit of the local government councils.

“An order for immediate enforcement and compliance with these orders by the state governments and successive governments henceforth.”

In May, the federal government had filed a suit at the supreme court against governors of the 36 states.

In the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the federal government asked for full autonomy for the country’s 774 local governments.

In the suit filed by Lateef Fagbemi, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, the federal government also requested the supreme court to authorise the direct transfer of funds from the federation account to local governments — in accordance with the constitution.


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