n what appears to be testing waters for the 36 state Governors, a Federal High Court Uyo, sitting under Justice A. A. Okeke has declined to grant the request of Akwa Ibom state government to stop the implementation of the guidelines on local government funds issued recently by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
The NFIU had on May 6 issued the ‘Guidelines to Reduce Vulnerabilities Created by Cash Withdrawals from Local Government Funds throughout Nigeria’ which restored the full mandate of the operations of State/Local Government Joint Accounts to be used solely for the distribution of funds directly to the accounts of the local governments.
Banks were requested to ensure the full implementation of the guidelines with effect from June 1, 2019.
However, all Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom state, alongside the state government through the Attorney General of the state approached the Uyo division of the FHC seeking to nullify the guidelines issued by NFIU
The court on Friday declined the request after listening to counsels from the state government and the NFIU.
The Plaintiffs, who were represented by the State Attorney General(Uwem Nwoko SAN) also urged the court to grant a restraining order against the NFIU stopping the commencement of the guidelines on the 1st of June,2019.
Learned Silk Arthur Obi-Okafor, SAN, who represented NFIU challenged the locus standi of the Plaintiffs and urged the court not to grant any order ” in favour of persons who are nothing but busy bodies”.
He informed the court that the matter is of grave national security concern and that the urgency raised by the Plaintiffs is self-induced since the guidelines were released on the 1st of May, 2019.
The court adjourned the matter to 21st June,2019 to hear all pending applications while declining to issue any restraining order.
While reacting to the judgement, NULGE president Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel said it is victory for the Nigerian people that would ensure inclusive development.
“We thank Almighty God for this victory, which is victory to the Nigerian people who are at the receiving end of the Governors diversion of this funds meant for their welfare and wellbeing .
“It’s victory for inclusive development and stability of our democracy. We see this decision as intervention from God whom we believe Would not allow this injustice to continue, certainly all days could be for the thieves but a day must come for the owners .
“Governors must think twice on this issue in the interest of inclusive and stable Nigeria. Local Government funds are suppose to be treated as distributable wealth aim directly at addressing the poverty from its roots , its targeted at curving the insecurity , rural urban migration,adequate and equitable distribution of primary health care , agriculture and general well-being of the people at grass root level.
“The diversion and encroachment by the states Governments in to the exclusive preserves of this tier of Government jeopardise the success of this noble idea and rendered the system impotent. Nigerians most rise against this and enough is enough”.