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JUDICIARY

Emirship tussle: Court rule against Kano govt, others challenging jurisdiction

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The Federal High Court sitting in Kano has on Thursday, ruled against Kano State government and others challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the issue of fundamental human rights instituted by a Kano traditional holder, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi in connection with the Emirship tussle.

Recall that the applicant, who is the traditional title holder of Sarkin Dawaki Babba of Kano emirate, Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi had approached the court seeking for enforcement of his fundamental human rights claimed to have been violated by government action in the Emirship tussle.

The respondents in the suit are Kano State Government as 1st respondent, Kano State House of Assembly (2nd), Speaker of Kano State House of Assembly (3rd), Attorney General of Kano State (4th), Kano Commissioner of Police (5th), Inspector General of Police, IGP (6th), NSCDC and DSS as 7th and 8th respondents respectively.

Delivering the ruling on jurisdiction on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice Abdullahi M. Liman, ruled that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter concerning the applicant’s fundamental human rights.

Justice Liman gave the ruling relying on Section 42 sub-section 1 and Section 315 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

However, reacting to the ruling, the Counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Ibrahim Isah Wangida, said he will meet with his client to decide the next line of action whether or not they will take the option to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the judge, Justice Liman, adjourned the matter till Friday for hearing of all pending applications saying the case is too sensitive for it to be dragged for too long.

JUDICIARY

S/Court Judgment, New Dawn for Grassroots Devt – Northern Elders

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed satisfaction with the recent Supreme Court judgment that granted financial autonomy to the 774 local government areas in the country.

This is contained in a statement by the Director of Publicity and Advocacy for NEF, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, on Friday in Abuja.

The forum said the landmark decision was anticipated to catalyse substantial development at the grassroots level, heralding a new era of decentralised power and resources within the nation’s governance framework.

According to it, this bold move marks a departure from the past practices of centralising power and resources in the hands of respective state governments.

“It holds great promise for empowering local governments to take charge of their own affairs and address the pressing needs of their communities.

“One of the pivotal advantages of financial autonomy for local government areas is the enhancement of their capacity to plan and execute development projects tailored to the unique necessities of their respective communities.

“In the past, local governments have been marginalized, emasculated, and sidelined in the decision-making process, with the bulk of resources and power concentrated at the state level.

“This has led to inefficiency and ineffectiveness in delivering basic services such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure at the grassroots level,” he said.

NEF therefore, lauded the Supreme Court for addressing what it described as “imbalance of power” and resources, paving the way for more targeted and effective local governance.

According to the forum, with control over their finances, local governments will be able to prioritize and fund projects that directly impact the lives of their people.

It said local government councils could as well invest in building new schools, improving healthcare facilities, or upgrading roads and transportation networks to enhance connectivity and access to markets.

The forum emphasised that the financial autonomy was expected to foster greater accountability and transparency in the management of public funds at the local level.

“With more control over their expenditures, local governments will be held to higher standards of accountability and will be required to report on their financial activities and outcomes.

“This, in turn, is expected to help reduce corruption and mismanagement of public funds—longstanding issues in Nigeria’s governance system.

“Granting financial autonomy to the local government areas will promote participatory governance and citizen engagement in decision-making processes.

“Local governments will be more responsive to the needs and preferences of their communities, as they will have the flexibility to engage with local stakeholders and involve them in the planning and implementation of development projects.

“This will foster a sense of ownership and empowerment among citizens, as they will have a direct role in shaping the future of their communities,” he added.

The northern elders also expressed the belief that financial autonomy for local governments would also spur economic development at the grassroots level.

“Local government areas will create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, thereby generating employment opportunities for local residents by investing in necessary infrastructure and social services.

“This step is crucial in reducing poverty and inequality, stimulating economic activity, and improving the overall quality of life in both rural and urban areas.

“However, NEF also issued a stern warning to local government officials against the misappropriation of these newly granted resources.

“It should be noted that the plunder and pillage of local government resources by top officials would no longer be the order of the day and any acts of looting and open theft would not be tolerated.

“We stands firm in its commitment to ensuring that this Supreme Court judgment marks the beginning of a prosperous and equitable era for all Nigerian communities, driven by empowered and accountable local governments,” the forum added. (NAN)

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JUDICIARY

Ododo Welcomes Appeal Court Judgment

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Gov. Usman Ododo of Kogi has welcomed the judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja that upheld the decision of the governorship election petition tribunal affirming his return as the duly elected governor of the state.

Ododo, in reaction to the appellate court judgment, thanked the people of Kogi for their support.

The governor, therefore, called on opposition politicians in the state to join him in advancing the development of the state.

He stressed that the judgement of the Appeal Court should now lay to rest the argument over the result of the 2023 governorship election and unite the people for the development of the state, irrespective of political differences.

The governor, in a statement made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media, Ismaila Isah, expressed appreciation to the judiciary for the swift and expeditious manner with which it dealt with the appeal.

He added that the court had again demonstrated that the mandate freely given to him by the people of the state “cannot be upturned by persons who may not agree with the will of God and the majority of the people of Kogi.”

“ I give thanks to God for seeing us through this phase of the court processes and I thank the people of Kogi State for uniting behind our administration and the steps we are taking to serve our people with the best of our ability.

“The judgment of the Appeal Court reaffirms the fact that the November 2023 Governorship election in Kogi State was free, fair, peaceful, and credible.

“By the grace of God, our administration has become the symbol of peace and unity in our state and we are committed to serving our people on the basis of equity and inclusion.

“I thank the judiciary for staying true to its independence with this judgment of the Appeal Court that has reaffirmed the earlier decision of the tribunal which is a clear testament that the mandate freely given to us by the people of Kogi State was done in the best interest of our state.”

The governor also expressed appreciation to President Bola Tinubu for ensuring that the judiciary remains truly independent and transparent as the last hope of the common man in the country.

Report says that the Appeal Court had, on Thursday, upheld the May 27 decision of the Kogi State governorship election petition tribunal.

The three-member tribunal had upheld the election of Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected Governor of Kogi, having scored 446,237 votes which represented the majority of lawful votes cast in the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship election in the state.

Also, the Appeal Court, in a unanimous decision, dismissed all grounds of appeals filed by candidates of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Action Alliance (AA) and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for being incompetent and for lacking in merit.(NAN)

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JUDICIARY

LG Autonomy: Supreme Court Judgment Meets Constitutional Order- Edeoga

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 Former Governorship Candidate of the Labour Party(LP) for the 2023 elections in Enugu State, Hon Chijioke Edeoga has hailed the Thursday ruling of the Supreme Court, which granted financial autonomy to the nation’s 774 LGAs.

Edeoga, in reaction to the judgment said in a  statement in Abuja that the judgment was in line with the existing constitutional order.

“While it is suspected that the judgment may not meet the approval of advocates of political restructuring in Nigeria, there is no doubt that it accords with the demands of the existing constitutional order.

“The violation of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by governors of Nigerian states has been going on with flagrant impunity for many years and under different administrations since 1999.

“Local Government Areas, recognized in the Nigerian Constitution as the third tier of government and the one closest to the people, have been deprived of the funds needed for grassroots development, thus existing at the mercy of state governors,” he  remarked.

He regretted that over the years, state governors have made local government funds their cash cows, receiving and dispensing as they deemed fit, and without regard to the development imperatives of the councils, their employees, and their respective peculiar development challenges.

“This abuse has given rise to situations where local councils are forced to queue on a strange breadline, where governors favour some local governments while sidelining others.

“The offices of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies are stacked with files bursting with evidence of abuse of local council funds by state governors, whose prosecution has been hindered by red tape and other inexplicable reasons” he noted.

The former Governorship candidate recalled that during  his campaign for the Governorship of Enugu State, he highlighted the deplorable management of local council funds in Enugu State and vowed that council funds would be sacrosanct if he won the election.

He said as a former local government Chairman, he knew the importance of those funds and the leverage they provide for rural development, employment generation, and economic empowerment. 

 “My belief is that rather than treat council funds as a source of free money as most state governors see them, I would ensure easy and direct access to it by council chairmen as a means of ensuring that local government councils become complementary to the state government’s development efforts,” he stressed. 

He said his intention upon assumption of office was to empower Local councils and noted that the judgment will minimize the tendency of some governors and state officials to favour their local governments of origin while sidelining others.

“I am particularly relieved that the administration of President Bola Tinubu has taken this rare positive step towards restoring the glories of local administration in Nigeria. “Those of us in the Enugu State chapter of the Labour Party see this as a step in the right democratic direction and must single out President Tinubu and the Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, for pursuing this judgement with a single-minded determination and patriotic purposefulness. 

“While we commend the current administration for the rare courage and vision deployed in pursuit of this case, we must also advise against allowing the judgement to form another layer of entry in our Case Laws. Nigerians are excited by the judgement and are looking forward to the restoration it would bring to bear on rural development across the country, and would be displeased if deliberate political, judicial, and institutional efforts are not made to ensure that implementation.”

“This judgement, it must be emphasised, is a PUBLIC INTEREST MATTER and has reignited hope of a possible grassroots development renaissance among the progressive-minded people that are interested in the development of Nigeria and the wellbeing of everyone” he stated.

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