18th January, 2016
The legal battle over the appointment of Caretaker Committees to manage the affairs of Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas in Lagos state has shifted to the Court of Appeal Lagos, Division.
Justice Abdulfatai Lawal presiding over a Lagos high court had on 23 October, 2015 declared the appointment of caretaker committees over the administration of local government councils in Lagos State illegal and unconstitutional.
Dissatisfied with the verdict of the court, Lagos State filed Notice of Appeal against the judgement and prayed the court to stay execution of the judgement pending the hearing and determination of its appeal before the Court of Appeal.
When the matter came up Monday, Justice Lawal ordered that the records of the proceedings should be transmitted to the Appeal Court following the Notice of Appeal filed by Lagos State dated 17 November, 2015.
The court in a suit filed by the National Conscience Party (NCP), through its lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa directed Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, to conduct elections in all local governments within thirty days.
The court held that no governor is empowered by the constitution to take over the administration of local governments through sole administrators or caretaker committees.
Justice Lawal further stated that the system of Local Government can only be managed by democratically elected people and if the state House of Assembly should make any law validating sole administrators for local government, such law will be invalid and unconstitutional.
The court further declared the Lagos State Local Government law, which allows for the appointment of caretaker committees, as illegal and unconstitutional.
The court also held that section 1(3) of the constitution stipulates that Nigeria should not be run in any manner that is contrary to the constitution.
The court rejected the argument of LAISEC that it was waiting for voters’ register from INEC since the same voters’ register and polling booths were used for the April 2015 elections.
Consequently, Justice Lawal directed LASIEC to conduct elections in all local governments within 30 days.
The applicant, National Conscience Party, through its National General Secretary, Comrade Ayodele Akele, had filed the action for a declaration that the local governments in Lagos State can only be run and managed by a democratically elected administration.
However, Lagos State government and LAISEC had argued that unless INEC gave voters’ register to LAISEC, election cannot be conducted.
They argued further that the delay in the conduct of elections into local government could not be blamed on the Lagos State government, and therefore urged the court to dismiss the case.
The Court of Appeal is yet to give a date for the hearing of the appeal.