LG Autonomy: ‘FG Attempting To Rewrite Constitution’ – Ondo Asks Supreme Court to Dismiss Suit

The Ondo State Government has approached the Supreme Court, asking it to dismiss the suit the Federal Government filed to secure full autonomy for the 774 Local Government Areas, LGAs, in the country. The state, in a legal process it filed before the apex court, maintained that FG lacked the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action on behalf of the LGAs....CONTINUE READING THE ARTICLE FROM THE SOURCE

In the preliminary objection that was entered by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Dr Olukayode Ajulo, SAN, the state, which is the 28th defendant in the suit, described FG as “a busy body and a meddlesome interloper” that is interfering in local government affairs.

It argued that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, filed the suit in flagrant violation of section 232 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Section 1 of the Supreme Court Act 3, 2002 and Order 3, Rule 6 of the Apex Court.

The state, while accusing the AGF of attempting to rewrite the constitution, insisted that the apex court could not effectively assume jurisdiction to determine the matter since it was legally defective.

According to Ondo State, 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.

It contended that FG lacked the legal right to maintain the action, adding 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.

Citing Section 162(3) of the Constitution, Ondo State Government averred 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.

It added that the sharing, among the three distinct tiers, is not subject to the discretion or any terms and conditions of the federal government.

More so, the state argued 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.”

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