Return LGA Funds Or Face Legal Consequences, SERAP Warns 36 Governors, Wike

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the 36 state governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, to “immediately account for and return the local government funds which they have collected over the years.”

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SERAP’s appeal came in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that declared the practice of state governors and the FCT minister withholding and utilising funds intended for local governments unconstitutional.

In a statement signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Thursday, the organisation said, “We applaud the Supreme Court for this groundbreaking decision which will end the persistent alleged misappropriation by several of trillions of FAAC allocations or public funds meant for local governments.

“Following the Supreme Court judgment, there is now a clear legal precedent to hold governors and FCT minister to account for how they have spent the local government funds collected by them.”

Oluwadare added, “Implicit in the Supreme Court judgment is the requirement for the governors and FCT minister to immediately account for and return the funds meant for local governments but retained and used or allegedly misused by them.”

READ ALSO: SERAP Drags Lawan And Gbajabiamila To Court Over Missing ₦4.4bn NASS Funds

“Accounting for and returning the LGA funds collected would build trust in democratic institutions and strengthen the rule of law.”

“If the governors and FCT minister fail to account for and return the funds meant for local governments in their states and FCT within 7 days, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel the governors and FCT minister to comply with our requests in the public interest.”

The organisation noted that it is in the public interest for the governors and FCT minister to account for and return the funds meant for local governments in their states and the FCT since 1999.

“Accounting for and returning the local government funds collected would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods, and enhance the ability of the local governments to effectively and efficiently discharge their constitutional and statutory responsibilities.

“The 36 states in Nigeria and the federal capital territory, Abuja, have reportedly collected over N40 trillion federal allocations meant for the 774 local governments areas in the country and FCT.”

READ ALSO: Reject Buhari’s Fresh Request To Borrow $4bn, €710m SERAP Begs Lawan, Gbajabiamila And NASS

“The Federation Account Allocation Committee disbursed to states N225.21 billion federal allocations meant for local governments in November 2023 alone. States also collected N258,810,449,711.47 federal allocations meant for local government areas in December 2023,” the statement read.

The Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Federal Government, seeking to grant full autonomy and direct funding to all 774 local government councils in the country.

The 36 state governments, represented by their attorneys general, filed a counterclaim, challenging the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to preside over the case.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Federal Government.

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