The 16 Transitional Implementation Committee Chairmen of the state’s local governments were fired by a Kwara State high court in Ilorin on Friday.
“The action of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the state government as executive rascality and abuse of office,” Justice Hassan. A. Gegele wrote in his decision.
“The Kwara State administration suspended democratically elected local government councils and subsequently replaced them with an illegitimate TIC that is unknown to any law,” the court concurred.
Elites Network for Sustainable Development, ENetSUD, an anti-corruption civil society organization, had taken the state government, the Kwara State governor, and the state Attorney General to the state high court to contest the appointment of the 16 Transitional Implementation Committee chairmen of the local government councils.
The court accepted all of ENetSUD’s exhibits and evidence.
The court also granted all of the civil society organization’s requests 1 through 7.
In suit number KWS/117/2021, ENetSUD sought among others a declaration that Section 29(1) to (5) of the Kwara State Local Government law, 2005 is in conflict with Section (7) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and thus null and void and of no effect whatsoever to the effect that it empowered the Governor of Kwara State to dissolve the democratically elected local government councils and replace them with TIC/Caretaker or whatsoever name called, appointed by the governor or any other body.
The organisation also sought a declaration that by virtue of the combined effect of Section 7 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 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.
ENetSUD, also sought a declaration that the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended) does not recognise the purported transitional implementation committee/caretaker or any other name whatsoever called in Kwara State and the creation or appointment of such is therefore unconstitutional.
It further sought an order setting aside the purported appointment of transitional implementation committee by the state government of March 5, 2021, or any other dates whatsoever.
ENetSUD, also sought an order directing the second respondent (Kwara state governor) to recover/refund back to the state treasury all funds, remunerations and benefits already paid to members of the said TIC.
The body further sought an order directing the second respondent (Kwara state governor) to conduct local government elections with immediate effect in accordance with Section 7 (1) of the constitution of the Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
Reacting to the ruling, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Salman Jawondo, said the ” the reasoning of the trial judge is not a finality on the issue as it is subject to appeals at the higher benches, up to the Supreme Court.
” 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 judgement of the trial court,” the statement added.
Also in a reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, described the ruling by the high court on the matter as a welcome development and victory for democracy and the rule of law.
The party commended ENetSUD for fighting illegality, demanding justice and making efforts to deepen democracy in the state, adding that posterity will be kind to the group.