The Federal Government has obtained a ruling from the Supreme Court, instructing all 36 states of the federation to submit their defences within seven days in response to a lawsuit seeking full autonomy for the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in Nigeria.

The order was issued by a seven-member panel of Justices, led by Justice Garba Lawal, on Thursday.

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The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, representing the Federal Government, argued for an abridgement of time, which was granted by the court. The AGF was also directed to file a reply within two days upon receiving the defences.

Justice Lawal emphasized that the court’s decision was based on the national urgency of the case and the lack of objection from the Attorneys-General of the 36 states. It was mandated that all filing and exchange of legal documents must be completed within the specified timeframe.

Additionally, the court ordered that the eight states (Borno, Kano, Kogi, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, and Sokoto) absent from the proceedings be served with fresh hearing notices.The case has been adjourned until June 13 for the hearing of the suit.

The Federal Government’s lawsuit seeks an order allowing the funds held in the local governments’ accounts to be directly allocated to them from the federation account, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Furthermore, the government requested an order restraining governors from appointing caretaker committees to oversee the affairs of local governments, which goes against the constitutionally recognized and guaranteed democratic system.

Consequently, the government urged the court to issue an order prohibiting state governors from unilaterally and unlawfully dissolving democratically elected local government officials.