Supreme Court Grants Local Governments Financial Autonomy in Nigeria

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has made a landmark ruling, granting local governments (LGs) full financial autonomy. This decision was delivered on Thursday, July 11, 2024, in a suit filed by the Federal Government against the 36 state governors.

Key Highlights of the Ruling

  1. Direct Allocation of Funds: The court ruled that it is unconstitutional for state governors to withhold funds meant for local governments. Instead, these funds will now be directly allocated from the Federation Account to the local governments.
  2. Prohibition of Caretaker Committees: The court ordered that state governors cannot appoint caretaker committees to run local governments. This is seen as a move to ensure that local governments are administered through democratically elected systems.
  3. Independence of Local Governments: The ruling aims to guarantee the independence of local governments, which have historically been under the control of state governors. This decision is expected to enhance governance at the third tier of government, as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution.
  4. Support from NULGE: The National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) had called for a national day of prayer and fasting in support of the LG autonomy case, which was ultimately granted by the Supreme Court.

Background and Context

The suit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, on behalf of the Federal Government. The government argued that the Constitution recognizes federal, state, and local governments as three tiers of government, each with its own funds from the Federation Account. The AGF contended that the governors’ failure to establish democratically elected local government systems was a deliberate subversion of the Constitution.

Implications and Reactions

The ruling has significant implications for the governance structure in Nigeria. It aims to ensure that local governments receive their due share of funds from the Federation Account without interference from state governors. This decision is expected to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of local governance, as local governments will now have direct control over their finances.


The Supreme Court’s decision to grant local governments full financial autonomy is a landmark achievement in Nigeria’s quest for effective and decentralized governance. This ruling is expected to strengthen the third tier of government and promote democratic principles at the local level.

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