The Osun state government on Thursday told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that its order withholding Federal Government allocations to local governments in the state has suffocated the local administration and could truncate local government election fixed for 27 January.
Justice John Tsoho had on December 4 ,2017 granted an interim order stopping federal allocations to local governments in Osun State pending the determination of a suit seeking to stop federal allocation for local governments indirectly challenging the planned conduct of election into the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by the State government .
Following an application brought by some aggrieved persons who had filed a suit challenging the creation of additional local government areas in the state that was not supported by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The plaintiffs/applicants, namely, Chief Kolawole Osunkemitan, Chief Douglas Adeyinka Oyinlola and Prince Aderemi Adeniran Adelowo had in the suit prayed the court to stop the federal allocations to Osun State local governments after the State House of Assembly enacted a law creating additional local governments council.
They had made the Attorney General of the Federation (1st defendant), Accountant General of the Federation (2nd), Central Bank of Nigeria (3rd), Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) (4th), Minister of Finance (5th), INEC (6th), Osun State Government (7th), Osun State House of Assembly (8th) and Osun State Independent Electoral Commission as the defendants.
The Attorney General of Osun state, Dr Ajibola Bashir (SAN), on behalf of the state government told the court to vacate the interim order. Arguing the two motions seeking to set aside the interim order made by Justice Tsoho on December 4, Bashir said that the order basically put on hold allocations accruing to the local governments in the state and the planned local council election in the state.
Moving the application dated 28 December, 2017, the AG of Osun state urged the court to set aside the interim order of injunction granted the plaintiffs because “it has lapsed by fruition of time”.
Bashir argued that by provisions of Order 26 Rule 12, an exparte order has an expiry date, (14 days) and provides that an application must be filed in order to discharge such an order.
The Attorney General submitted the fact that the court asked the plaintiff to put the defendants on notice “is an extension of the motion exparte”.
He insisted that “mere service of notice to show cause, does not convert an exparte motion to a motion on notice. More so, when there was nowhere in the record of the court to show that the motion exparte was converted to motion on notice
In opposition, counsel to the plaintiff, Robert Clarke, SAN, asked the court to discountenance the application of the Attorney General of Osun state.
Clarke posited that the court clearly declined the motion exparte he brought on November 28 and directed that parties be put on notice.
He argued have put the parties on notice and fixed the matter for December 4, 2017 the court had converted the motion exparte party to motion on notice.
“Being that the case, there is no exparte order to set aside, the motion on notice filed by the 7th defendant has failed” Clarke stated.
He argued that “the proceeding of December 4, from which the interim order emanated from, was based on a motion on notice and not an exparte application.
Justice Tsoho had on December 4, the judge granted the five following reliefs: “An order of interim injunction restraining all the defendants, particularly the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants (AGF, Accountant General, CBN, Revenue Mobilization and Finance Minister) from releasing any money to the LCDAs purportedly created by the 7th defendant (Osun government), pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the 7th defendant from using or diverting any money released by the Federal Government as allocation to the 30 constitutionally recognised Local Governments of the 7th defendant, whether for the purpose of running the Local Councils Development Areas it purportedly created, or for conduct of election into the said LCDAs, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the 6th defendant or any of its agents from assisting, supporting or releasing Voter’s Register to the 9th defendant, whether for the conduct of election into the LCDAs or any other related process, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction directing the 2nd, 3rd. 4th and 5th defendants, to warehouse in an interest-yielding account, all the monies and or allocations belonging to the distorted 30 constitutionally-recognized Local Governments in Osun State, pending the determination of the motion on notice; and
“An order restraining the 9th defendant or any of its agents from conducting election for any of the 32 LCDAs purportedly created by the 7th defendant, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The judge on Thursday fixed January 24, for ruling in an application seeking to set aside the interim order.
Andrew Orolua, Abuja