Court sacks all Akwa Ibom council chairpersons, declares their appointments illegal

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel

A court in Akwa Ibom State has declared as illegal, the local government caretaker committees in the state.

The 31 local governments in the state have been run for about two years now by chairpersons handpicked by the state governor, Udom Emmanuel.

A State High Court at the Abak Judicial Division presided by Justice Ezekiel Enang declared on Tuesday that the setting up of the caretaker committees was unlawful because there were no provisions for such within the Nigerian Constitution.

The court accordingly ordered Governor Emmanuel to dissolve the caretaker committees immediately.

A lawyer, Nsikak Akai of the Nsikak Akai and Associates, Abak, who filed the suit against the Akwa Ibom State government and Mr. Emmanuel, told PREMIUM TIMES that he checked through the Nigerian constitution but could not find any provisions that empower the governor to set up caretaker committees to run the local governments in the state.

Mr. Akai said he was happy for the judgment, describing it as a victory for democracy and the people of the state.

“For once, Akwa Ibom people can hold their governor to account subsequently whenever a governor intends to or even contemplate appointing caretaker committees in the state,” he said.

“The grievance we had was that the persons that were being appointed as caretakers were only answerable to their benefactors who see them as stooges, while the people bear the brunt.

“Once we have elected representatives at the grassroots level, then we can hold them to account,” Mr Akai said.

However, the Commissioner of Justice in the state, Uwemedimo Nwoko, said the state government would appeal the judgment.

When PREMIUM TIMES reminded Mr. Nwoko that the grounds for the judgment was that caretaker committee running the affairs of the local government areas was alien to the Nigerian Constitution, he responded, “That may be so, but the truth is that there are certain circumstances that make the setting up of transition committees applicable in this matter.”

Mr. Nwoko said he told the court that the inability of the state government to conduct the local council election was because the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, since 2012 has failed to make available to the Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission, AKISIEC, the voters’ registers in the state.

“It would have been improper and it would have disenfranchised thousands of people in Akwa Ibom State if we had gone back to use the 2012 voters’ registers which INEC itself has discarded,” said Mr Nwoko, who added that the caretaker committees were established after a law to that effect was duly passed by the state House of Assembly.

The commissioner’s remarks, however, contradicts what Governor Emmanuel said in May – that the state lacked funds to conduct local elections.

“The prevailing economic situation is not conducive for us to conduct local government elections,” the governor had told journalists during a press briefing at the Government House, Uyo. “We cannot borrow money on high interest rates from bank for elections.

“What of if you set up local government council and you don’t have money to run the council?

“In recession, you carefully direct where money should go,” the governor said.

The government later made a U-turn and fixed November 11 for the election.

The lawyer who filed the suit against the state government, Mr. Akai, said they were ready to defend the judgment at any level of appeal.


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  • Man_Enough

    This judgment is heart warning. How would governorship aspirants feel if the federal government appoints caretaker governors instead of conducting elections as at when due?

  • Okokondem

    It’s in of itself troubling that the governor has succeeded for two whole years in replacing elected local government chairmen with hand-picked loyalists without any opposition. In what other society does this happen without a pushback from the people. What if anything will it take to motivate the Nigerian populace to fight to reclaim their country?

    Currently, the erstwhile president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, is facing corruption charges in courts, and the PM of Pakistan, Narwa Sharif, has just been relieved of his duties by the country’s high court.

    Venezuelans are busy challenging the status quo in their attempt to rewrite the constitution that is generally believed would give sweeping powers to the country’s leader, Maduro. Recently, the Polish people engaged in similar sustained mass demonstrations to register their discontent with an attempt by the current administration to subvert the constitution and the will of the people.

    My question therefore is, why did it take two years for someone to challenge the Akwa Ibom governor’s overtly unconstitutional dessolution of elected local government chairmen, and the appointment of illegitimate replacements?

    What would Nigerians, in this case Akwa Iboms, deem egregious enough to declare their objection.

  • princegab

    These are criminals, the earlier the masses start lynching them the better

  • Pure Reasoning

    This is one of the best judgement to come out of the Nigeria court. For once, the judge did not kowtow to the governor’s argument. All state govt should immediately dissolve their caretaker chairperson and conducted election. Kudos to the judge.