Court Fixes May 23 For Suit On Illegal Sacking Of Elected Local Council Officials In Benue

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Justice P T Kwahar of the Benue State High Court sitting in Makurdi has fixed May 23, 2024 for the suit challenging the unconstitutional sacking of elected local government officials in the state and subsequent appointment of caretaker committees in violation of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution (as amended).

Justice Kwahar fixed May 8, 2024, for ruling on preliminary issues in the suit which was filed by ab activist, Comrade Sesugh Akume.

In the suit between Sesugh Akume v Governor of Benue & 4 Others marked MHC/346/2023), the activist is challenging the constitutionality of the sacking of elected Council Chairman and Counsellors in the state by administration of Governor Hyacinth Ali and supplant them with his cronies.

Akume, suing as a private citizen dragged Fr Alia, the Benue governor; the attorney-general; the speaker, and House of Assembly; and the special adviser, Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (as the first, second, third, fourth and fifth respondents, respectively) before the Benue State High Court seeking an order of court to declare the removal of the elected local government chairmen in the state as a coup d’etat.

The applicant (Akume) in the suit filed on Monday, October 23, 2023, through his lawyers had contended that Governor Alia’s action of sacking or indefinitely suspending the elected local government officials in the state for four months without justification since June 23, 2023 had left the local government system — which is the most critical tier of government, being closest to the people — rudderless with no executive or legislative councils and no governance going on at all.

 

 

 

 

 

In his originating summon, the applicant had stated that the 1999 Constitution which is the Supreme law of the land under which every other law bows recognises only democratically-elected local government councils.

In a statement on Saturday personally signed by the applicant, (Sesugh Akume), he said that the court had fixed May 23 for the preliminary ruling.

 

 

 

He said, “In the same vein, the matter of Sesugh Akume v Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) (with suit number MHC/449/2024) to compel BSIEC to conduct local government elections ready for the incoming administrations to be sworn in on 29 June when the term of the current officials ends, before the Honourable Mr Justice J M Shishi also in Makurdi, filed since 13 March has been fixed for the same 23 May.

“The reason given in both instances is that the courts are undergoing renovation. It may be noted that courts in Nigeria usually go on vacation for 2 months from some time in July through the whole of August and resume in September.

 

 

 

“In the former case, it is expected that the court will hear (and hopefully grant) our application to put aside proceeding to rule on whether it has the legal authority (jurisdiction) to hear our case, but to adopt or hear all our processes (including our amended originating summons) before it first, as proceeding with the ruling without hearing us would be premature, a miscarriage of justice, as well as a violation of the rules of the court, etc.

“In the latter case, it is expected that the court will hear (and hopefully grant) our application to set aside its usual processes and expeditiously hear and conclude our case to compel BSIEC to conduct local government elections with the winners ready be sworn in within the next 5 weeks as they normally should.”

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