The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted leave for the commencement of a judicial review suit, seeking an order to stop the Federal Government from paying the allocations due to local governments in Imo State to the state government until local government elections have been conducted in the state.
Justice John Tsoho granted the leave on October 9, 2017 upon an ex parte application by Mr. Okere Nnamdi, who is one of the plaintiffs who filed the suit.
The rest of the plaintiffs are a non-government organisation, Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International; Samuel Nwokocha, and Ekwebelem Obinna.
The plaintiffs, who claimed to have sued for themselves and on behalf of the “Coalition of the Youth Organisations” joined the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, as one of the six respondents.
The rest of the respondents are the National Assembly, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha; the Imo State House of Assembly, the Attorney General of Imo State and the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission.
In their ex parte application, the applicants sought a leave “to commence action for judicial review of administrative action/inaction against the defendants in this suit by way of mandamus against the defendants to compel the 2nd defendant (the National Assembly) to perform its constitutional mandate and obligation under section 88(2) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution to immediately mandate and direct the 1st defendant (Minister of Finance) in this suit to forthwith stop the monthly statutory allocations from the Federation Account to the 27 local governments of Imo state,”
They prayed that the LGA allocations should be stopped “pending when local government election is conducted in Imo State to restore democratically-elected local government councils guaranteed under the constitution.”
They hinged their prayers on “the combined reading of sections 7 (1) and (6) and 162 (3) and (5); and Section 88 (2) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution.”
They also sought “an order granting leave to the plaintiffs to commence action for judicial review of administrative action/inaction of the 6th defendant (ISIEC).”
They are seeking a mandamus order compelling the ISIEC “to forthwith and without any further delay, conduct local government election to restore democratically-elected ocal governments in the 27 local governments of Imo state.”
This, they said, would “enable the 27 local governments of Imo State to qualify to continue to receive statutory allocation from the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria as constitutionally guaranteed; in view of Section 7 (1) and (6) (a) of the 1999 Constitution.”
In the verifying affidavit in support of the application deposed to by Chigbundu Patricia of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation, the applicants stated, “That this matter is a matter that promotes public interest, rule of law and need to strengthen constitutional democracy in Nigeria, restore democracy at the local government levels in the Imo State of Nigeria and the 1st plaintiff’s interest in this matter is public interest, being a corporate citizen established to lawfully pursue the aims and objectives contained in its constitution.
“That the 2nd, 3rd and 4th plaintiffs are citizens of Nigeria and indigenes of the Imo State of Nigeria and are members of the Coalition of Imo Youth Organisations, an association founded in accordance with Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“That as citizens of Nigeria and adults, they are eligible to vote and be voted for in any local government election in Imo State.
“That the 3rd and 6th defendants in this suit has failed to conduct local government election in Imo State since 2011 when Rochas Okorocha who occupy the position of the 3rd defendant in this suit was first elected governor of Imo state.
“That in 2010, the former governor Ikedi Ohakim conducted local government election into the 27 local governments in Imo State and when the incumbent 3rd defendant (Okorocha) came to office on May 29, 2011 he dissolved the democratically-elected local governments and appointed caretaker committees.
“That since the dissolution of democratically-elected local government councils in Imo State in 2011 by the 3rd defendant, no other local government election has been conducted contrary to constitutional provisions.
“That since 2011 when the incumbent 3rd defendant came to power he has continued to unconstitutionally operate the 27 local governments of Imo State with caretaker committees and sole administrators to the dismay of the plaintiffs