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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, dismissed a suit that Governors of the 36 States of the Federation, filed to query the constitutionality of regulations the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, issued to guarantee financial autonomy for local governments.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the suit lacked merit.
It held that the regulations which came to effect on June 1, 2019, was aimed to ensure that funds meant for local governments are paid directly to them, rather than through a joint account controlled by governors.
Besides, Justice Ekwo stressed that provisions of the NFIU’s guidelines, were not in conflict with 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It will be recalled that the state governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum, had on May 27, 2019, through their Attorneys-General, approached the court to halt the implementation of the regulations.
The regulations had aside from setting modalities through which funds could be withdrawn from local government accounts, also set daily limit for such withdrawals.
In their suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/593/2019, the plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, prayed the court to nullify the regulations for being unconstitutional, null and void.
They urged the court to declare that by virtue of sections 4(7), 7(6)(a) and (b), 162(6) and 162(7) and (8) of the Nigerian Constitution, the state governments, “are not subject to control or directive of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit or body on the terms and manner of operation of State Joint Local Government Account other than by a law passed by the states’ House of Assembly”.
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