AGF wrong to join Lagos in LG funds suit — Sanwo-Olu

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sanwooluLagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has described the joint suit instituted against the 36 state governors over alleged misconduct in the administration of local governments as ‘a legal anomaly’.

Sanwo-Olu, who disclosed this at the two-day legal summit held in Ikeja, the state capital, noted that local governments in Lagos State enjoy full autonomy.

The Federal Government has approached the Supreme Court with a suit seeking to compel governors of the 36 states of the federation to grant full autonomy to the local governments in their domains.

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.

The Federal Government is urging the apex court to issue “an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders for local governments.”

Reacting to the suit, the governor noted that the AGF should have conducted due diligence to ascertain the erring state governors rather than join the 36 governors in the suit.

He said: “It is interesting to read the news that the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation has sued all the 36 states because governors did not give autonomy to the third tier of government. The only mistake, which I am going to tell our Attorney General, is that some of us are in compliance.

“The Attorney General should have done his due diligence to identify which states are not in compliance so that we don’t sue all the 36 states together. You can determine which states are not violating the constitution. If it is three, four or five states are in compliance, then you can sue the 31 states for violating the autonomy of the Local Governments. That is part of the back work that we need to do.”

Sanwo-Olu added that an infringement on the local council autonomy was an affront to the spirit of the constitution on which the judiciary must make a clear interpretation for equity and fairness.

He stressed further that a better justice system would protect the interests of parties and discourage actions limiting the efficiency of any government entity.

Sanwo-Olu said that judicial reform must remain on the agenda in a functional society to improve the administration of the justice system and make the court the last hope of the common man.

He added that the judiciary in Lagos has been an example in protecting the rule of law and setting good examples for other jurisdictions in the dispensation of justice.

Also speaking at the event, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Ariwoola, who was represented by Justice Iyabode Yerima, lauded the Lagos judicial system for being ‘a forerunner’ in justice development, stressing that other jurisdictions usually borrowed from examples set by Lagos.

Similarly, the AGF, represented by Fernandez Marcos-Obiene, noted that the robust and transparent reforms embarked on by Lagos in the justice system had promoted economic growth.

He pledged that the FG would continue to provide platforms for reforms that would improve public trust in the judiciary.

Other speakers at the two-day event included the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lawal Pedro (SAN), and Chief Justice of Lagos, Justice Kazeem Alogba, among others.


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