‘You Lack Power To Withhold LG Funds’ — Kwara Gov’t Tells Tinubu, Opposes Full LG Autonomy

The Kwara State government has filed a counter-suit against the Federal Government’s request for the Supreme Court to grant full autonomy to Local Government Areas (LGAs) nationwide.

Kwara, listed as the 23rd defendant, argued that granting the full autonomy sought by the Federal Government could worsen the economic situation for many Nigerians living in the areas.

The Kwara Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Senior Ibrahim-Sulyman, presented the arguments in the counter-suit.

Sulyman contends that the current system, where funds are allocated to a state-managed special account before distribution to LGAs, complies with the Constitution (Section 162 (6) and (8)).

The section, according to the AG provides that funds meant for the local governments “must be allocated to the state in a special statutory account and shall in turn be distributed to all the LGs in the state in such terms as may be prescribed by the state’s House of Assembly.”

The Attorney-General cited a previous Supreme Court case (Abia State vs Attorney General of the Federation) as a precedent supporting this view.

Sulyman suggested that amending the Constitution or enacting new legislation would be a more appropriate path to achieve full LG autonomy, stressing that Kwara State consistently distributes allocated funds to its LGAs and upholds democratic processes at the local government level.

“The ideal thing is for the plaintiff to ensure that a Bill is sponsored for the amendment of the constitution or a new statute to that effect. The plaintiff cannot use the back door of the judiciary to import into our law what is not legislated upon by the National Assembly,” the AG said, adding “The allocation meant for the local governments in the state are released for the use of the local governments, monthly.”

The state also disputed the Federal Government’s claim of withholding LGA funds, saying Section 162(5) of the Constitution mandates the Federal Government to release the allocations to states.

“The President has no power vested in him to suspend or withhold for any period, whatsoever, the statutory allocations due to state pursuant to the provisions of Section 162(5) of the 1999 Constitution,” it further argued.

The Federal Government, through the Attorney General of the Federation, initiated the original lawsuit seeking several measures including a court order preventing governors from dissolving elected local government executives.

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