17th December, 2010
Two years after the Osun state Electoral Commission, OSSIEC, conducted aÂ controversial Local Council election in the 30 local government areas of the stateÂ in the state in 2008, the Supreme Court on Friday nullified that election andÂ dissolved the local council administration of the entire council areas.
In the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, the apex courtÂ held that the state electoral commission did not comply with the law when it issuedÂ a 21 day notice to parties in the state for the conduct of the council polls. TheÂ Electoral Act 2006 had provided for a 150 days election notice.
The state electoral commission had relied on section 10 of an electoral law made byÂ the Osun state House of Assembly in the exercise of its powers to make law onÂ election matters relating to Local Councils in Osun state. Section 10 of the OsunÂ State Electoral Law deals with time limit within which to publish Notice of anÂ election scheduled for the state.
When the state electoral commission issued the 21 -day notice to the parties in theÂ state in 2008 for the council polls, the Action Congress dashed to court to restrainÂ the electoral body from conducting the election on the grounds that the notice wasÂ too short for the party to prepare for the election and that the 21 days noticeÂ falls short of the stipulated 150 days provided for in the Electoral Act 2006.
The party failed in its bid to stop the election at the Osun state High Court andÂ subsequently appealed at the Court of Appeal in Ibadan Division. Court of AppealÂ agreed with the Action Congress of Nigeria that federal law was superior to that ofÂ the state.
Section 31 (1) of Electoral Act 2006 provides that INECÂ shall not later than 150Â days before the day appointed for holding an election under the act publish a noticeÂ of election. The apex court held that the state law cannot override a federalÂ legislation.
The court affirmed the decision of the appellate court to the effect that the noticeÂ of election was inadequate and that the required 150 days notice ought to have beenÂ issued by the state electoral commission rather than the 21 days notice it issued.
With this verdict, Governor Rauf Aregbesola is expected to formally dissolve theÂ councils and appoint caretaker chairmen preparatory to fresh polls.
â€”Nnamdi Felix, Abuja