– Declares IMC members aides of governor, should not manage LGA funds
– Directs RAMFAC to stop allocation for Imo State
It was a very sad day for Governor Hope Uzodinma, yesterday with the Federal High Court in Owerri, reinstating elected Chairmen and Councilors back to the 27 LGAs and declaring the action of the Governor in replacing them despite the Supreme Court declarative orders, as unconstitutional, illegal, null, void and of no effect.
Shameful as it is, the judgement comes as a deterrent to very stubborn, obdurate, inconsiderate and arrogant governors, most of who even secured their own victories from the law courts but when mounting the saddle became hedonic and insist on appointing stooges to administer the council areas in flagrant abuse of the rule of law.
On assumption of office, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who belongs to the same APC with the elected Chairmen and Councilors defiled all entreaties and representations by the democratically elected Chairmen to allow them to return to their offices.
The legal battle between the sacked Council Chairmen and Councilors by the past administration of Emeka Ihedioha if not appealed will be finally put to rest following the declaratory judgement by Justice Ringim of the Federal High Court, Owerri on Wednesday July 1, 2020.
The embattled Council Chairmen and Councilors were suspended by the former Governor, Emeka Ihedioha and were out of office for a year and one month before luck smiled on them via the court order.
According to Justice Ringim, while delivering his judgement which lasted over two hours “there is nothing like dissolution of council administration by governors, as they lack the constitutional powers to do that. Even the State House of Assembly lacks powers to pass such resolutions.
Continuing, Ringim ordered the sacked Council Chairmen and Councilors to return to their offices adding that occupants of their offices “were ghosts”.
He added that Interim Management Committee (IMC) member and their Chairmen across the 27 LGAs in the state who were appointed by the then governor Ihedioha and substantive Governor Hope Uzodinma were mere ghosts as they are not recognized by law to manage council funds.
The judge said, “an order seeking that the sacked chairmen be reinstated is hereby granted. The constitution is very clear on this that it is reckless and executive lawlessness for the executive to sack duly elected Local Government Chairmen.
Interim Management Committee chairmen as appointed by the state governor are ghost workers before the law”.
According to the jurist, the Governor had no legal right to sack elected LGA Chairmen whose tenure was guaranteed by the constitution and subsequently pronounced by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
With this victory and recent dissolution of the National Working Committee of APC, Senator Hope Uzodinma camp is fast losing grip of the state branch of APC, since elected Councilors and Chairmen constitute the bulk of the delegates at any primary election or congress.
The jurist ordered that the LGA allocations be stopped until the Governor obeys the court judgment, reinstating the sacked Chairmen.
Furthermore, he directed RAMFAC to stop all allocations to Imo state forthwith as the occupants of the LGA are illegitimate.
Reacting to the judgement of the Federal High Court, Council Chairman of Ngor Okpala LGA, Evang Chinwe Obinna expressed gratitude to God for the victory while commending the judge for his courage and ingenuity. Also, he said the judgement was a demonstration of true democracy and judiciary independence. He further called on his colleagues to be magnanimous in victory as they resume duty as democratically elected Council Chairmen and Councilors.
Meanwhile,the actions of the successive governors are not different from that of Okorocha who disobeyed court judgements reinstating those elected chairmen under governor Ohakim in 2011. Pundits argued that Okorocha laid the foundation of usurping elected chairmen’s tenure through the House of Assembly and wondered why he expects any governor to inherit chairmen and counselors elected under him.