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LG funds: Supreme Court verdict assault on true federalism – Ibori


Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori has said that the Supreme Court assaulted true federalism with Thursday’s judgement barring state governments from further retaining or utilising funds meant for the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country.

Justice Emmanuel Agim, who led a seven-member panel of justices, delivered the lead judgment in a suit filed by the federal government against the 36 state governors.

The suit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, was filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on behalf of the Federal Government.

Sun Newspapers reports that The apex court ruled that no more payments of local government area allocations would be made to state government accounts and prohibited the governors from receiving, tampering with, or withholding funds meant for local governments.

Reacting in a statement shared on X, Ibori said the judgement “dealt a severe setback on the principle of federalism as defined by section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)”.

The former governor said, “The section expressly provides thus: ‘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’.

“Sections 6 provide further clarity on the subject matter. (6) Each State shall maintain a special account to be called ‘State Joint Local Government Account’ into which shall be paid all allocations to the Local Government Councils of the State from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State.

He said added, “The court’s ruling on the matter is an assault on true federalism. The federal government has no right to interfere with the administration of Local Governments in under any guise whatsoever.

“There are only two tiers of government in a federal system of government. I’m opposed to fiddling with the allocations to the Joint LG Accounts at the state level but that in itself does not call for this death knell to the clear provisions of section 162 of the constitution.”

Ibori said the implications of the ruling are far-reaching and affect constitutional interpretation, balance of power, state autonomy, financial independence of states and local governments, and set a precedent for further federal interventions in areas traditionally reserved for state governance, potentially leading to a more centralised system of government over time.

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