- Orders council elections within 30 days
- Says State Assembles can’t make laws on LGs
An Igbosere High Court of Lagos on Friday, declared the appointment of caretaker committees, popularly called Executive Secretaries, over the administration of local government councils in the state as illegal and unconstitutional.
The Court also ruled that whatever laws made by the state Houses of Assembly to validate sole administrators for local councils in the country are null and void and unconstitutional.
Justice Abdulfatal Lawal made the declaration while delivering judgement in a suit filed by the National Conscience Party, through its lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.
Consequently, Justice Lawal has directed the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, to conduct elections in all local governments in the state within 30 days.
Justice Lawal held that no governor is empowered by the constitution to take over the administration of local governments through sole administrators or caretaker committees.
“I call upon the Lagos State government to immediately implement the judgment of the court by dismantling all the illegal structures of local government caretaker committees”.
“I also call upon all state governments where the local governments are being manned by administrators to conduct elections immediately”, the court held.
The judge also held that democratically elected officials can only manage the system of local government 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. And 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.
Lawyer to NCP, Adegboruwa commended the judge for his manifest courage, adding that this has once again proved that the Nigerian judiciary has been the sustainers of our democracy.
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.
The party had sought for an order directing Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to supply voters register to Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission.
NCP also seeking for an order of mandamus compelling LAISEC to forthwith conduct local government elections in Lagos State and to declare the caretaker committees as illegal.
In response, Lagos State government and LAISEC stated that upon the expiration of the tenure of the last local government administration in October 2014, Lagos State Governor, by executive order appointed interim caretaker committees headed by executive secretaries, to run the affairs of all the local governments, in order to avoid a vacuum.
The National Conscience Party is contending that this is in contravention of section 7 of the 1999 Constitution, which states that only a democratically elected government can be allowed to run the local governments and section 1(2) of the 1999 Constitution which states that no part of Nigeria shall be government in any method that is contrary to the Constitution.
But counsel to Lagos State, Lawal Pedro, SAN and counsel to LAISEC, Yemi Adesina, submitted not until INEC gives voters’ register to LAISEC, election cannot be conducted.
He said 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 applicant’s case.