You can’t reduce council chiefs’ tenure, court tells Niger
A New Bussa High Court in Niger State yesterday ruled that the state government has no right to reduce the tenure of elected local council chairmen and councilors from three to two years.
This followed the suit filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP), 14 political parties and five councilors over the reduction of the tenure of local councils in state.
The case was filed against the state government and the House of Assembly.
The court, presided over by Justice Mohammed Mohammed, ruled that the Assembly in particular lacked the powers to amend the local government (Amendment) Laws, 2016 of Niger State published as Niger Legal Notice No1, as it did, which Governor Abubakar Sani Bello signed into law.
The SDP and 19 others had initiated the suit by way of originating summons on November 15, 2017 but amended the process pursuant to an application dated December 7, 2017, which was filed before the court on December 11 and amended on December 14, 2017.
In a 37-page judgment, which lasted almost three hours, Justice Mohammed held that failure of the first defendant to comply with the constitutional requirement of amending the local government law 2001 “rendered the amended law unconstitutional, invalid and lacks legal status.”
On whether or not the first defendant had powers to reduce the tenure of elected local council officials in the state from three years to two years, Justice Mohammed declared that he did not think so.
“On the contrary, it is my humble view that the powers enumerated in sections 4 and 7 of the constitution do not include the power to either extend or reduce the tenure of elected local councils in Niger State.
“Where a law is invalidated, it would be as if it had never been and the old law will subsist,” he ruled.
He added that in this instance where the law was invalidated, the only recourse on tenure would be to the old law.
The Judge declared that the sole issues for determination were resolved in favour of the plaintiffs and consequently granted all the claims of the plaintiffs.
“The defendants, their agents, privies or servants are hereby restrained from taking any action or steps whatsoever pursuant to or giving effect to any of the provisions of the local government (Amendment) law 2016 of Niger State published as Niger State Legal Notice NO 1 of 2016,” Justice Mohammed stated.
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