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Ruling : LG autonomy ‘ll promote grassroots development — Ohuabunwa

The President, Africa Economic Summit 2024, Dr Sam Ohuabunwa ,says the Supreme Court judgement granting full financial autonomy to the 774 local governments will promote grassroots development in the country.

Ohuabunwa, a former Presidential aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party, said this in an  the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday.

NAN reports that the Apex Court had on Thursday ruled in favour of full financial autonomy for the 774 local government councils in the country.

In the landmark judgment, the court ordered the Federal Government to immediately start direct payment of local governments’ funds to the councils’ exclusive accounts.

Reading the lead judgment, Justice Emmanuel Agim decried the decades-long refusal of state governments to allow financial autonomy for local governments in their respective states.

Justice Agim noted that the 774 local government councils in the country,constitutionally, should have the freedom to manage their funds themselves.

Reacting to the verdict, Ohuabunwa said the practice of state governors withholding local governments funds had affected the performance of local government councils.

This, he said, had caused  underdevelopment at the grassroots level.

“I firmly believe that the Supreme Court judgment that granted full autonomy to local governments, is  a welcome development  for  sustainable grassroots development.

“Such autonomy will enable local governments to directly access and utilise their resources for the advancement of their communities, ensuring they are accountable to the local populace.

“Currently, funds designated for local governments are channelled through state governments.

“This has severely hindered   effective administration of local government councils . It is a matter of fact that the governors, through the joint accounts, retain control over these funds .Thankfully enough ,that  has  now been addressed  by this judgment,” he said.

Ohuabunwa urged the federal  government to ensure full implementation of LG autonomy as granted by the ruling.

NAN reports  that Thursday’s ruling followed a legal action instituted by the Federal Government against the governors of the 36 states of the federation at the Supreme Court over what it called their interference in the administration of local councils in their respective states.

The suit filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, sought full autonomy for all local government councils in the country.

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

The suit also asked for an order permitting the funds standing in the credits of local governments to be directly channelled to them from the Federation Account, in line with the provisions of the constitution as against the alleged unlawful joint accounts created by governors.

FG also 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. (NAN)

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