LG Autonomy: Ondo Tackles AGF, Calls FG Meddlesome Interloper


Ondo State government has urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on behalf of the federal government, seeking full autonomy for the 774 local governments.

The apex court will hear the matter on June 13.

The state government, in its preliminary objection filed on June 6, by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Olukayode Ajulo (SAN), which was made available to newsmen yesterday, described the federal government as “a meddlesome interloper” for trying to interfere in the business of states and local governments.

The state government argued that the central government has no right or interest affected or likely to be affected by the action it complained against, adding that the proper and necessary parties for the purpose of invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court are not before the court.

The state also claimed that the federal government lacks the locus standi to institute the suit for local governments.

The objection, which was predicated on 27 grounds, contended that the AGF cannot single-handedly rewrite the constitution by asking the Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit that he filed in flagrant violation of Section 232 of the 1999 Constitution, Section 1 of the Supreme Court Act 3, 2002 and Order 3, Rule 6 of the Apex Court

The AGF had dragged the 36 state governments before the apex court, accusing them of misconduct in the management of local government funds and affairs, and demanded that the apex court grant local governments full autonomy and their monies in the Federation Account be channelled directly to them.

Ajulo, however, on behalf of Ondo State government, who is the 28th defendant in the suit, stated that the notice of objection claimed that Section 232 of the Constitution only permitted the invocation of the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court where there is a dispute between the federation as plaintiff and states as defendants which involves any question of law or fact on which the existence or extent of the legal right of either the federation or states depends.

Maintaining that the federal government has no locus standi to institute the suit, Ondo government claimed that the funds complained of in the suit belong to local governments created by the constitution as a distinct and different tier of government independent of the federal government.

The state government claimed that pursuant to Section 7 (1) and 162(8) of the Constitution, its House of Assembly enacted a law to provide for the local government system, establishment, administration and ancillary matters known as the Local Government Administration, Conduct of Local Government Election and Allied Matters, Cap 87, Volume 2, Laws of Ondo State of Nigeria, 2006, it, therefore, insisted that by the combined provisions of the constitution, the federal government has no right or obligation on the allocation and distribution of funds standing to the credit of local governments in Ondo State and that no law has placed any obligation on it in respect of the terms and manner that the local government funds should be allocated or distributed.

Citing Section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution, Ondo State government insisted that any amount standing to the credit of the federation account shall be distributed among the federal and state governments, and the local government councils in each state on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, adding that the sharing among the three distinct tiers is not subject to the discretion or any terms and conditions of the federal government.

He noted that by the provisions of Section 162(8) of the 1999 Constitution, “the amount standing to the credit of local government councils of a state shall be distributed among the local governments on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of the State”.

He contended that “the distribution or usage of the said funds of local governments, especially in Ondo State, is not subject to the discretion or any terms and conditions to be prescribed by the federal government”.

Insisting that by the provisions of Section 7(1) of the constitution, the government of every state and not the federal government shall ensure the existence of democratically elected local government councils under a law made by the House of Assembly and the said law shall provide for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and function of such council.


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