BREAKING: “State Electoral Commissions should be scrapped” – AGF Fagbemi declares

Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, has called for the abolition of State Electoral Commissions, citing them as significant impediments to the development of local governments. 

Fagbemi made this assertion at a one-day discourse on “Nigeria’s Security Challenges and Good Governance at the Local Government Levels,” organised by the House of Representatives in Abuja on Monday.

In his speech, Fagbemi criticized the current structure, arguing that state governors exploit constitutional loopholes to undermine local government autonomy. 

He pointed to sections of the 1999 Constitution, including Section 7(1), Section 83(3), and Section 7(5), which he claims are used by governors to exert undue control over local governments.

“Governors have latched on to the inadequacies and lacunas in some sections of the 1999 Constitution to undermine and render local governments redundant,” Fagbemi stated. 

He accused state governors of manipulating the State Electoral Commissions to impose leaders at the local level through rigged elections and often opting for caretaker committees rather than elected officials.

“The most prominent abuse of local government is the use of state electoral commissions to impose leaders at the local government levels through sham elections,” Fagbemi asserted.

“Most governors only appoint caretaker leadership in their local governments, further depriving people at the grassroots of effective representation,” he added.

To address the issues, Fagbemi called for a robust constitutional amendment to remove barriers hindering local government development. 

He proposed transferring the functions of state electoral commissions to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure more impartial and credible local elections.

“To achieve this, many experts have proposed that there is a need for the scrapping of the state independent electoral commission. 

“Their functions and powers should be transferred to the independent national electoral commission because the state independent electoral commission remains an appendage to every incumbent governor. 

“This is perceived as the root cause of the problem of local government administration in Nigeria,” Fagbemi said.

The Attorney General’s remarks follow a legal action he initiated at the Supreme Court on behalf of the Federal Government. 

The suit seeks to stop the remittance of local government funds to state governments and to prevent the disbandment of elected local government chairmen in favour of caretaker committees.

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