A Niger State High Court sitting in New Bussa on Tuesday stopped the Niger Government and the House of Assembly from reducing the tenure of Local Government Councils from three years to two.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court, presided over by Justice Mohammad Mohammad, while ruling on a case filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and 14 other political parties, declared that the House of Assembly lacked the powers to reduce the tenure.
The litigants had, on November 15, 2017, dragged the state government and the House of Assembly to the court to challenge the reduction of the tenure, declaring the action as “illegal”.
They averred that the House of Assembly lacked the powers to amend the local government (amendment) law as they did in 2016, which was thereafter endorsed by Governor Abubakar Bello, and passed into law.
NAN reports that the House of Assembly was the first defendant in the matter that had the Niger government and its Attorney General as co-defendants.
Mr. Mohammed, while delivering his judgment on the matter, said that the failure of the House of Assembly to comply with the constitutional requirement of amending the local government law of 2001, had rendered the amended law “unconstitutional”.
“The 2016 amendment did not comply with constitutional requirement and cannot stand; it is invalid and lacks legal status,” he declared.
On the issue of whether or not the 1st defendant had powers to make laws reducing the tenure of elected local government councils in Niger, Mr. Mohammed declared: “I do 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 extend to any right to either extend or reduce the tenure of elected local government councils in Niger State,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed further submitted: “Where a law is invalidated, it would be as if it had never been, and the old law will subsist. In this instance where the law was invalidated, the only recourse on tenure would be on the old law.”
The Judge declared that the sole issues formulated for determination were resolved in favour of the plaintiffs and consequently granted all their claims.
Mr. Mohammed, therefore, refrained the defendants, their agents, privies or servants from taking any action or steps aimed at 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.
Reacting to the judgment, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Nasara Danmalam, said that government would appeal against it.
“We believe in the rule of law; we will challenge the judgement at the Appeal Court,” he said.
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