By Okelo Madukaife
All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday scored the bulls eye for democracy winning a five-year old suit challenging the illegality of Local Government Caretaker Committees in Enugu State.
In a land-mark judgement delivered on Friday morning, May 7,2021,Justice Kayode Kekere-Ekun, leading four other justices of the apex Court in a five-man panel declared that appointment of Caretaker Committees is in conflict with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore stands illegal.
Delivering the judgement, in a session convened on Zoom video conferencing, Justice Kekerun restated the position of the Constitution in agreed Section 7(1),which guarantees ‘democratically elected government in the local governments’
The declaration forms part of the 14 reliefs sought by APC legal team led by George Ogara Esq.
The apex Court which granted all the reliefs sought in the appeal by APC, except one, also held that the appointment of LG Caretaker committees was in total conflict with Section 3(1),4(3) and 59 of Local Government CAP law 109 of Enugu State.
The apex court however declined to order the swearing-in of APC candidates for the 2016 election, because according to the apex court ‘it has been overtaken by events’.
Particularly the Supreme Court in the judgement against an appeal unsuccessfully defended by Enugu State Government and Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) held that the act of abandoning elections to appoint ‘Caretaker Committees’ offends Section 7 (4) of the Constitution and NJ therefore stands null and void to the extent of its inconsistency with the Constitution which must prevail in such circumstances.
The learned justices of the Supreme Court came down heavily against the ‘undemocratic actions of Enugu State Government which ironically came into office through a democratic process’.
Friday’s judgment which has set the tone for a new approach to the running of Local Governments, formed the bedrock for the declaration of the LG Caretaker Committees in Oyo State as illegal.
APC instituted a similar case with respect to similar undemocratic actions of APGA-controlled Anambra State Government and Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC), which judgement is pending.