Lalong loses appeal against sacked councillors
The Court of Appeal in Jos, on Wednesday threw out an appeal filed by Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau, against 271 elected councillors he sacked in July 2015.
The sacked councillors, through their counsel, Mr Gyang Zi, had sued Lalong, the Plateau Attorney General and the State House of Assembly, over their removal from office.
The officials, whose three-year tenure was truncated in its first year, described their removal as “illegal and unconstitutional’’.
Collectively, they filed a case against the trio before Justice David Mann of State High Court III, in Jos.
But the governor challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter and its decision to take the preliminary objection along with the substantive case.
Lalong failed in that suit and quickly appealed against the ruling.
The governor, through his counsel, Mr Victor Paul, prayed the appellate court to set aside the decision of the lower court.
He also sought an order that the preliminary objection of his clients should be heard first, before the substantive suit.
But the appellate court, presided by Justices A.G. Mshelia (lead Judge), A.H. Abiru and E.O. Williams, rejected Lalong’s objection to the decision of the lower court.
While upholding the decision of the lower court, the appellate court declared that there was nothing wrong with the lower court hearing both the substantive and the preliminary objection simultaneously.
The judges declared that the appeal lacked merit and dismissed it.
The councillors’ counsel, Zi, in his reaction to the judgement, described the stance of the appeal court justices as “very satisfactory and a further testimony to the fact that there was hope for the common man”.
“We are happy that the appellate court saw reasons with the decision of the lower court and upheld it by dismissing the appeal of Gov. Lalong,’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
“My clients will go back to the High Court to pursue their rights, having been wrongfully sacked by the state government,” he said.