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There may be no end in sight on the dust raised prior to the conduct of the local government election held On May 12, 2018, as proceedings have again commenced on a legal action challenging the legality of conducting election into offices of Executive Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and councilors in the 35 Local Council Development Areas of the state.
This Newspaper gathered that, there was an original summons filed through their counsel, an Ibadan based Legal Practitioner, Kolawole Adegoke Esq. on Thursday, May 10, 2018 where the plaintiffs, Samuel Bolarinwa Olubodun, Johnson Aderemi Oke and Emmanuel Busayo Adediran from Oluyole and Ibadan South East Local Government Areas are challenging the legality of holding elections into the 35 newly carved out Local Council Development Areas in the state.
A report by an online newspaper Goalpoarcher was quoted to have stated that “The first hearing of the case, held on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at Court 1, Federal High Court, Ibadan, was precided over by Hon. Justice Ayo Emmanuel in the suit marked Samuel Bolarinwa Olubodun and 2 Ors Vs. Executive Governor of Oyo State and 4 Ors. with Suit Number FHC/IB/CS/67/2018 in which the plaintiffs are praying the court to determine whether by virtue of the provisions of Section 8(5) and (6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, there can be legal and constitutional recognition for the 35 Local Council Development Areas and their wards newly carved out by the state government being inchoate and having not complied with the said provisions of the constitution to have the the new LCDA’s included in the Local Government Areas in Nigeria referred to in Section 3(2) and listed in Part I of the First Schedule to the Constitution including, whether the 35 new LCDA’s so carved out, can enjoy same legal status as those 33 existing Local Government Areas of Oyo State listed in the relevant sections mentioned above as to legally participate in any valid local government election in Oyo State on Saturday, May 12, 2018 or any other date pending such compliance with the provisions of Section 8(5) and (6) of the constitution.
The plaintiffs further prayed the court to declare that the new LCDA’s can not legally participate in the Local Government Election thus rendering the election illegal, null and of no effect, while also asking the court to make an order refraining the defendants from recognising or treating the 35 new LCDA’s as Local Government Areas and by implication, stopping them from recognising the chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors elected into the 35 new Local Council Development Areas pending compliance with Section 8(5) and (6) of the Constitution pf the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
Also joined as defendants in the suit are Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State; Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission and Oyo State House of Assembly, while the hearing on the matter was adjourned to Tuesday June 19, 2018.
While speaking with Newsmen, one of the plaintiffs, Bolarinwa Olubodun, said: “This is the only case that was not struck out in the Federal High Court, It was transferred to the State High Court.”
Speaking further, Olubodun noted that the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic delayed the court process, however, saying that hearing would commence on the matter from January 21
According to him, the implication of the litigation is that the much anticipated local government election speculated to hold before the end of the first quarter of 2021 may not be feasible.
Olubodun’s lawyer said the case is just starting afresh, adding that it is not related to the ongoing legal tussle between the Oyo State Government and the former ALGON which is now at the Supreme Court.
“Until our case is struck out, even if Oyo State Government gets a favourable judgement at the supreme court, it doesn’t affect ours.”
“No election will be conducted until our case is concluded. Court papers have been sent to the Governor, Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC), Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters.”
Reacting to the matter, a top government functionary who is also a lawyer, who didn’t want his name mentioned, admitted that the case is a major challenge to this administration.
He said: “During electioneering, our Governor, Seyi Makknde told everyone that he would conduct free, fair and credible election at the local government level. Since,he came on board, he had to battle the former illegal chairmen he met on ground. He dissolved them. The case is still in court. Excellency again dissolved the former OYSIEC members to pave way for new OYSIEC.”
“So, on this particular case, since it was instituted by our party member, we have no option but to adopt political solution as the way out. I can assure you that it will be settled out of court. It’s not family affair, we will settle it amicably,” he concluded.
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