LG Autonomy: AGF Malami Flays 36 State Govs, Begs Court For Support

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The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, has urged Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja not to allow the 36 state governors to use his court to infringe on the constitution.

The AGF stated this in the preliminary objection filed against a suit instituted by the governors and the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to challenge the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU)’s regulation on local governments’ financial autonomy.

Recall that the governors and the NGF filed the suit on May 27, 2019, to challenge the constitutionality of the regulation which was to come into effect on June 1, 2019.

The regulation sought to abolish the states’ local governments joint accounts through which governors exercised absolute control over local governments’ funds in the country.

The regulation officially referred to as ‘NFIU Enforcement and Guidelines to Reduce Crime Vulnerabilities Created by Cash Withdrawal From Local Government Funds Throughout Nigeria Effective June 1, 2019’ seeks to ensure that funds meant for the local governments are paid directly to them.

But in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/593/2019, the plaintiffs prayed the court to declare the regulation unconstitutional, null and void.

In his objection filed by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata (SAN), the AGF argued that the suit on its own was a breach of the constitution.

“The plaintiffs by this suit, seek to breach the provisions of the constitution as it relates to the doctrine of federalism establishing financial autonomy of the Nigerian local government system.

“The plaintiffs by this suit seek to promote illegality and a breach of the constitution and as such make this suit incompetent.

“This court cannot be used as a vehicle to breach the provisions of the constitution,” Malami argued through Apata, who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice.

The AGF also challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.

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