No LG Autonomy Without Transparent Elections:-HURIWA

No LG Autonomy Without Transparent Elections:-HURIWA

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described the Supreme Court of Nigeria’s verdict on the autonomy for Local Government Area Councils mere symbolism and a ‘decorated scam’ for as long as governors are allowed to hand pick chairmen of Local Councils in their states.

In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA, said the Supreme Court should have been asked to order expressly all the state governors to adhere strictly to Section 7 (1) of the constitution by allowing for a transparent and credible Council poll in their state.

The group stated that for now, most governors simply select their political jobbers and surrogates to head the councils and even when the governors pretend to organise local council elections, those exercises are mere charades.

Specifically, section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states that “The system of local government by a democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed…”

HURIWA affirmed that: “We are of the opinion that the judgement of the Supreme Court with regards to the question of autonomy of local councils, is not complete since governors all over Nigeria still appoint their cronies, house boys, boot-lickers and political thugs as local council chairmen”.

“There is no guarantee that council funds wouldn’t be automatically rechannelled to their political bosses, the governors, if the funds belonging to their councils are paid to the local councils directly. There is no accountability mechanisms to stop the above re-looting of council funds by governors from happening.”

HURIWA recalled that the Supreme Court, on Thursday, declared that it is unconstitutional for state governors to hold onto funds meant for Local Government (LG) administrations.
In its lead judgement read by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court observed that the refusal of state government on financial autonomy for local governments has gone on for over two decades.

He said local governments has since stopped receiving the money meant for them from the state governors who act in their stead.
Justice Agim noted that the 774 local government councils in the country should manage their funds themselves.

He dismissed the preliminary objections of the defendants (state governors).

In the suit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi, the Federal Government sought an order preventing the governors from arbitrarily dissolving democratically elected councils.

HURIWA however commended the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for initiating the matter in the first place but urged him to go back to the Supreme Court to obtain an order compelling the state houses of Assembly to put mechanisms in place to ensure that council elections are credible just as the Rights group said the Supreme Court should make it obligatory for governors to work with only elected council officials instead of appointing their aides as heads of the LGAs.

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