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Ibori criticizes Supreme Court’s LG autonomy ruling

Former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, has voiced strong opposition to the recent Supreme Court judgment granting full autonomy to local governments across Nigeria.

In a statement posted shortly after the landmark ruling, Ibori condemned the decision, arguing that it undermines the principles of federalism enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim on Thursday, established that local government councils are constitutionally entitled to manage their finances independently, free from state government control.

This verdict followed prolonged disputes between state governors and the Federal Government over the allocation and management of funds meant for local governments.

Citing specific constitutional provisions, Ibori pointed to Section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which stipulates the distribution of funds among the federal, state, and local governments.

He emphasized that states maintain a special account, the State Joint Local Government Account, into which allocations for local councils are deposited.

“The Federal Government has no right to interfere with the administration of local governments under any guise whatsoever,” Ibori asserted, reaffirming his stance against federal encroachment into state matters.

Expressing concern over the broader implications of the ruling, Ibori warned against potential centralization of power, which he argued contradicts the decentralized nature of federalism.

He cautioned that allowing the Federal Government direct control over local government finances could lead to political manipulation and diminish states’ autonomy.

“This decision could set a precedent for further federal interventions in areas traditionally reserved for state governance,” Ibori cautioned, highlighting the risk of eroding state authority in favor of centralized control.

He stressed the importance of local governments being democratically elected while opposing any attempts to withhold their constitutionally allocated funds.

Ibori maintained that while he disagrees with state-level withholding of local government allocations, the Supreme Court’s ruling represents an overreach that threatens constitutional balance.

“In the coming days, we will begin to fully understand the implications of the Supreme Court decision,” Ibori concluded, urging for adherence to constitutional principles without compromising on the autonomy and governance rights of local governments.

The former governor’s critique underscores ongoing debates surrounding federalism and governance structure in Nigeria, reflecting broader concerns over the distribution of powers between federal, state, and local levels of government.

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