June 14, 2024

The Daily Vendor

Nigeria Digital Newspaper

LG elections: Anambra monarchs jittery as Court hears suit May 22

4 min read

The Federal High Court, Awka Division has slated May 22 to hear the suit filed by activist and politician, Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, challenging the prolonged undemocratic constitution of local government administration in Anambra State.

In suit no FHC/AWK/CS/90/2024, which he instituted through originating summons, the plaintiff requested for nine consequential reliefs/directing orders, premised on the interpretation of the previous judgment of the court on the same matter in suit no. FHC/EN//CS/2005, delivered on September 26, 2006 by Justice A. L. Allagoa of the Federal High Court Enugu Division.

Listed as 1st to 8th defendants respectively in the latest matter are the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Governor of Anambra State, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Anambra State and Anambra State House of Assembly. Others are former governors, Dr. Chris Ngige, Mr. Peter Obi and Chief Willie Obiano, for themselves and on behalf of their transition chairmen and councilors, and Mr. Livinus Onyenwe for himself and on behalf of transition chairmen under the incumbent Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo.

Among the reliefs sought by Okonkwo is an order, nullifying/setting aside all the purported directives,  financial expenditures, presentment of “Igwe elects” by town unions to chairmen of transition councils, and issuance of certificates of recognition to them as His Royal Highnesses (H.R.H) for government recognition, purportedly made by the illegal and unconstitutionally constituted caretaker/transition committees with effect from September 26, 2006 by the 2nd to 8th defendants, having not been democratically elected.

Daily Vendor gathered that the latest development has thrown the Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers into panic, as majority of their members who were presented for appointment by unelected council chairmen, are afraid that the court may nullify their appointment.

This is amidst unconfirmed reports that the Secretary of the State Local Government Joint Accounts Committee cancelled cheques earlier issued to the 21 LG transition chairmen for routine expenses in the councils for the month of May, 2024.

Meanwhile, the court will on May 22, 2024, commence hearing on the substantive matter, alongside an application by the plaintiff for substituted service on some of the defendants who have allegedly been evading service. Court ballifs detailed to serve the defendants reported back that the security men they met at the addresses of the former governors, told them that they had no instructions to receive court processes from anybody.

Besides nullifying the appointment of all traditional rulers presented for appointment by unelected chairmen, the suit also seeks to bar Soludo and his three predecessors from contesting election or occupying public office or seeking for re-election under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Other consequential reliefs sought by the plaintiff, include an order to compel the 2nd to 8th defendants to render public account before the court, of all funds, illegally expended by them or agents and privies, during their respective administrations, while executing their illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of offices at the local government council areas in Anambra State, by tampering with public funds, excluding salaries and allowances of local government council employees and workers expenditure.

The plaintiff equally asked for an order, directing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 8th defendant to publish before the Honourable Court, the FAAC Allocation to the respective 21 local government areas in Anambra State from 2006 to 2024.

He also urged the court to order the 1st respondent (the Federal Republic of Nigeria) to put into the effect the unanimously passed resolution of the Senate, asking the Federal Government to halt the statutory allocation of funds to local government area councils, where chairmen and councilors were not democratically elected.

In addition, Chief Okonkwo demanded for exemplary damages of N100 billion in his favour, against the 2nd to 8th defendants.  

It will be recalled that the landmark judgment of the Federal High Court, Enugu Division, declared that by the combined effect of Section 7 (1) and 318 (i) (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Governor of Anambra State has no power for the appointment and approval of caretaker management committee, or in whatever name so called, to administer respectively, the 21 Local Government Council Areas in Anambra State.

Justice A. L. Allagoa entered the judgment in favour of Okonkwo, an indigene of Nnobi in Idemili South L.G.A of Anambra State,  who complained to the court that he was being denied the right guaranteed him in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, Cap A, 9 Articles 13 (1) 24;28 and 29 (2) of the L.F.N.2004 vol. 1, to participate in his domestic government in Idemili South and the third tier of government-the Local Government Council-which Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution decreed.

In his judgment, Justice Allagoa held that the Anambra State law providing for caretaker committee is inconsistent with Section 7 (1) of the Constitution.

Allagoa made it clear that the constitution not only guarantees the local government by democratic system, but further imposes a duty on the state government to ensure the existence of such democratically elected local government.

He made it clear that the powers of the State House of Assembly under Section 7 (1) of the Constitution, to legislate concerning local government councils, clearly did not include power of the State government to appoint caretaker committee to run local government.

Consequently, the court ordered the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents-the Governor of Anambra State, Anambra State House of Assembly and Commissioner for Justice, Anambra State-to pay the sum of N5 million as exemplary damages to the plaintiff, which the defendants complied with.

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