Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The Federal High Court sitting in Owerri, Imo State, has ordered the reinstatement of chairmen and councillors of the 27 councils sacked by former governor, Emeka Ihedioha.
The council officials elected during Governor Rochas Okorocha’s tenure were suspended in June last year.
In November 2019, they headed to court and also joined the Federal Accounts Allocations Committee (FAAC), Attorney General of the Federation(AGF) and Ihedioha in the suit.
Governor Hope Uzodimma also followed suit when he assumed office as he set up an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to manage the affairs of the councils.
But delivering judgment, yesterday, Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim held that the dissolution was wrong and ordered government to reinstates the sacked officials “immediately.”
The judge, in the suit, FHC/OW/CS/136/2019, also held that any local government area without elected officials should not be funded with federal allocation.
Justice Ringim insisted that the governor had no right to dissolve local government officials elected by the people.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Oba Maduabuchi described the judgment as historic and bastion of democracy.
“Today, we’ve made history because the governors have been consistently treating judgements of the courts with levity as they partend to the dissolution of elected local government officials. Today, that has been reversed
“From now, any governor that attempts to dissolve elected local government officials will be doing that in vain because they will no longer get a penny from the federal allocation. That’s why we are excited and happy.
“We must commend the judge because of his bravery. It is the state government that dissolved and the judge had the temerity to give judgment against the state government. It is not every judge that can give judgment against government of the state where he is posted.
“How can a governor wake up and dissolve local government elected by the people? Has the president ever dissolved any state? No. Why would any state governor wake up and dissolve the local government? The implication of this judgment is that the local government officials should start working today and henceforth, any local government that is not elected should not be funded,” he said.