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Court sacks 16 Kwara LG caretaker chairmen

Kwara State High Court, sitting in Ilorin, on Friday, declared the appointment of caretaker chairmen for the 16 local government councils in the state as illegal, null and void.

An anti-corruption Civil Society Organization, the Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), had dragged the state government to court over the dissolution of democratically elected council chairmen and appointment of a caretaker committee by Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

In his ruling, on Friday, Justice Hassan A. Gegele of the State High Court, ruled that the governor had no power to suspend democratically elected local government council executives and replace them with caretaker committees, describing the governor’s action as an abuse of power.

However, the state attorney general and commissioner for Justice, Salman Jawondo, has said that the state government would appeal the judgment, saying that the reasoning of the trial judge is not a finality on the issue.

The state attorney general, who said that the judgement is subject to appeals at the higher benches, up to the Supreme Court, added that “this allowance is guaranteed under our law.

“In exercise of its right of appeal as enshrined under the 1999 constitution as amended, the state government intends to explore that right. It will also, as allowed under the law, seek an immediate stay of execution of the judgment of the trial court.”

In suit no KWS/117/2021, ENetSuD had dragged the respondents (Kwara State Government, Kwara State Governor and Attorney General of Kwara State) to the State High Court to seek the following reliefs:

1. A declaration that section 29 (1) to (5) of the Kwara State Local Government Law, 2005 is in conflict with section 7(1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and thus null, void and of no effect whatsoever to the extent that it empowered Governor of Kwara State to dissolve the democratically-elected Local Government councils and replace them with Transitional Implementation Committees/ Caretaker or whatsoever name called appointed by the Governor or any other body.

2. A declaration that by virtue of the combined effect of section 7 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the provisions of section 18 and 28 the Kwara State Local Government Law, 2005 the Governor of Kwara State had no power to dissolve the democratically-elected councils of the sixteen Local Governments of Kwara State.

3. A Declaration that 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) does not recognize the purported Transitional Implementation Committee/ Caretaker or any other name whatsoever called in Kwara State and the creation or appointing of such is therefore unconstitutional.

4. A Declaration that the Respondents lack vires to release or use Kwara State resources to fund purported Transitional Implementation Committee/ Caretaker or any other name whatsoever called in view of sections 1(1), 7(1) and 15 (5) of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

5. An Order setting aside the purported appointment of Transitional Implementation Committee by the Kwara State Government of 5th March 2021 or any other dates whatsoever.

6. An Order directing the 2nd Respondent (Kwara State Governor) to recover/refund back to the State Treasury all funds, remunerations and benefits already paid to members of the said Transitional Implementation Committees.

7. An Order directing the 2nd Respondent (Kwara State Governor) to conduct Local Government election in the whole local government area of Kwara state with immediate effect in accordance with section 7 (1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The court granted all the prayers 1 –7 above made to the court by the ENetSuD.

Reacting to the judgment, the Kwara PDP in a statement by its State Publicity Secretary, Tunde Ashaolu, said the ruling was a welcome development and victory for democracy and the rule of law.

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