Posted by News Express | 9 December 2017 | 1,653 times
Local governments in Osun State are to be without monthly allocations from the Federation Account until a suit kicking against the planned conduct of election into the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by the state government is resolved.
The controversial creation increased council areas in the state to 62 from the original 30.
The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in April 2004, relied on assumed executive power to withhold the money meant for Lagos council areas following the creation of LCDAs by former Governor Bola Tinubu.
Supreme Court ruled the executive order inappropriate and the creation of new councils inchoate.
The temporary funds stoppage involving Osun State is, however, founded on judicial force with a Federal High Court in Abuja ordering the stoppage of the allocations and warehousing of same in an interest-yielding account.
The planned council poll was also technically stopped with an order to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to cooperate with the state government.
Funding of the planned polls to elect new leadership for the local governments and the newly-created council areas was also forbidden by the court which said local government monies from the Federation Account must not be used for the polls.
Presiding Justice J.T. Tsoho, in a suit brought by three plaintiffs/applicants, namely, Chief Kolawole Osunkemitan, Chief Douglas Adeyinka Oyinlola and Prince Aderemi Adeniran Adelowo, said the sought reliefs were granted because the defendants/respondents were served the court processes as ordered by him and despite that they were absent from court.
The judge had earlier rejected the reliefs on the polls and monthly allocations when the exparte application was first tabled before him on November 28, directing that the respondents be properly put on notice so that they could come before the court to show cause why the reliefs should not be granted. He adjourned till December 4.
At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, the judge went ahead to grant the set of reliefs he had earlier refused, following proof of compliance on the part of the plaintiffs and lack of same on the part of all the defendants who put up a no-show.
The defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria, Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Minister of Finance, INEC, Osun State Government, Osun State House of Assembly and Osun State Independent Electoral Commission.
The exparte application, dated November 8, originally contained 10 reliefs, five with minimal consequences first granted by the court.
The remaining are consequential orders which were granted on Monday and will require compliance by the affected respondents.
The granted reliefs are:
An order of interim injunction restraining all the defendants, particularly the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants (AGF, Accountant General, CBN, Revenue Mobilization and Finance Minister) from releasing any money to the LCDAs purportedly created by the 7th defendant (Osun Government), pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice;
An order of interim injunction restraining the 7th defendant from using or diverting any money released by the Federal Government as allocation to the 30 constitutionally recognised Local Governments of the 7th defendant, whether for the purpose of running the Local Councils Development Areas it purportedly created, or for conduct of election into the said LCDAs, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice;
An order of interim injunction restraining the 6th defendant or any of its agents from assisting, supporting or releasing Voter’s Register to the 9th defendant, whether for the conduct of election into the LCDAs or any other related process, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
An order of interim injunction directing the 2nd, 3rd. 4th and 5th defendants, to warehouse in an interest-yielding account, all the monies and or allocations belonging to the distorted 30 constitutionally-recognised Local Governments in Osun State, pending the determination of the motion on notice; and
An order restraining the 9th defendant or any of its agents from conducting election for any of the 32 LCDAs purportedly created by the 7th defendant, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), lead counsel for the plaintiffs, told Saturday Tribune that the order had been served on the defendants.
He said there was nothing political about the suit but a simple issue of law requiring the court to decide if legal allocation could be used to finance illegal government.
“This is all we want the court to decide,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Osun State Government said it has challenged the ruling on the basis that it was not given a fair hearing.
The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr Ajibola Bashiru, in a telephone chat with Saturday Tribune, maintained that he would release a detailed response tomorrow but said the state had filed a challenge to the order.
“I have read the order. I have already challenged the exparte order and asked for our right to fair hearing. I will give you a detailed response on Sunday. Suffice to say that there is no order stopping local government election in Osun. On Sunday, I will come out with comprehensive and filed papers on the application.
“I have already done a comprehensive response on the matter. Heads will roll over the matter in the judiciary. We are not going to take it lightly and we have already approached the Federal High Court. It is a tissue of lies to say local government election will not hold. The order granted can never be interpreted to mean that,” Bashiru said. (Saturday Tribune)
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