The Ilorin Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal filed by the Kwara State Government, the Governor and Attorney General of the state over the illegal appointment of Transition Implementation Committees in the 16 Local Government Councils.
Justice K.I. Amadi delivered the judgement via Zoom on Thursday, upholding the judgement of the Kwara State High Court.
The earlier judgment was given by Justice H.A. Gegele in favour of the Elites Network for Sustainable Development in October.
ENetSuD Press Secretary, Saeed Tijjani, confirmed the court’s decision in a statement on Friday in Ilorin.
ENetSuD is an anti-corruption Civil Society Organisation with registered office in Kwara State and known to be promoting good governance, transparency and accountability.
At the court’s sitting, ENetSuD was represented by its Director of Legal Services, Lukman Raji, while the Kwara State Government and other Appellants were represented by the Director of Civil Litigation of the State’s Ministry of Justice, A. M. Bello, and the Senior State Counsel, O. Michael.
According to the statement, the Respondent, who was the Claimant at the lower court in the original Suit No KWS/117/2021 at the Kwara State High Court, dragged the Appellants (Kwara State Government, the Governor and Attorney General) to the State High Court.
To seek 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 the Kwara State Governor 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.
ENetSuD had also declared 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 Kwara State Governor had no power to dissolve the democratically-elected councils of the 16 Local Government Areas.
It thus sought: “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.
“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).
“An Order setting aside the purported appointment of Transitional Implementation Committee by the Kwara State Government of March 2021 or any other dates whatsoever.
“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.
“An Order directing the 2nd Respondent (Kwara State Governor) to conduct Local Government election in the whole local government areas of the state with immediate effect in accordance with section 7 (1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”
Justice Gegele of the State High Court delivered his judgement in the case on October 8, 2021.
He ruled that the state government suspended a democratically-elected Local Government Council and then replaced them with an illegal TIC that is not known to any law.
He also granted all the prayers 1 – 7 listed above as made to the court by ENetSuD.
In the Appeal number CA/IL/122/2021 filed by the Kwara State Government against ENetSuD’s victory, the Kwara State Government provided the following grounds for her appeal: that Justice H.A. Gegele erred in law when he assumed jurisdiction to entertain ENetSuD’s suit on the TIC case on the basis that it is a public interest case and public spirited individuals are clothed with relevant locus to sue
That ENetSuD has no bearing to the issue presented before the Court [appointment of TIC in the 16 LGAs) and also failed to indicate that she is a taxpayer in Kwara State.
The Kwara State Government also said that Justice Gegele erred in law when he held: “…. ENetSuD is duly registered under the Incorporated Trustees of CAMA and therefore possessed the necessary legal capacity to sue and be sued in its corporate name.
“That Justice Gegele misdirected when he held that ENetSuD is clothed with requisite locus to institute this case and that the judge erred in law when he held that the need to certify public documents is only applicable when the totality of the dispute is initiated by way of writ of summons.
“The judge erred in law when he concluded that originating summons (as in the case of ENetSuD) are fought on the platform of affidavit and counter affidavit evidence and admits ENetSuD’s exhibits as evidence.
“That Justice Gegele erred in law and misdirected himself when he held that the Transition Implementation Committees (TIC) are in place in Kwara State.
“Justice Gegele erred in Law when he concluded that the tenure of the last democratically-elected Local Government Council had lapsed and presently being managed by undemocratically-elected Council members either in the name of TIC or DPM.
“The Judge erred in law when he agreed to ENetSuD’s submission that section 29 of the Kwara State Local Government Law, CAP K33, 2005 is in conflict with express provision of Section 7(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Justice Gegele erred in law when he declared section 29 (1) – (5) of the Kwara State Local Government Law 2006 as unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever to the extent that it empowers Governor of Kwara State to dissolve the democratically-elected Local Government Council and replace them with Transitional Implementation Committee.
“The judge erred in law when he held that the dissolution of the Local Government Council in Kwara State by the Governor of Kwara State and the appointment of TIC is inconsistent with section (71) of the Constitution and therefore null and void, and that it is clearly unconstitutional, illegal and ultra vires the powers of the Governor.
“The judge erred in law when he held that any law made by the House of Assembly which provided for nomination of membership of a council or appointment of an administrator or caretaker committee to replace a democratically-elected council as in the case filed by ENetSuD is inconsistent with the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Justice Gegele erred in law when he granted ENetSuD’s relief and ordered the Governor to conduct election in the state with immediate effect.
“The judge misdirected himself when he granted an order that affects persons who were not parties to the case.
“The judge erred in law when he made the case of Governor of Ekiti State and ORS vs. Prince Sanmi Olubunmi applicable to the case at hand.
“The judgement of Justice Gegele is against the weight of evidence.”
The Kwara State Government sought to allow the appeal and set aside the judgement of the lower (High) Court delivered on October 8, 2021 by Justice Gegele.
Justice K.I. Amadi, while delivering his judgement on Thursday, dismissed the appeal made by the Kwara State Government and ruled in favour of ENetSuD.