A human rights group hails Lagos High Court ruling declaring Caretaker Committee Chairmanship of Local Government illegal and faults government agencies on illegal harassment, reports Paul Yovo
A Lagos State based group, Save Lagos Group (SLG) has hailed the Judicial arm of government over the landmark Judgment delivered on the status of caretaker committees appointed by the out gone administration of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.
Justice Abdulfatai Lawal of the State High Court division sitting in Igbosere at the weekend delivered the appointment illegal. According to the learned judge, appointment of Caretaker committees to man the Local council areas of the State violated the Constitutional provision that democratically elected officials as should run the Local Governments
The group, while reacting to the landmark judgment through its Convener, Comrade Adeniyi, Alimi Sulaiman in a signed statement, which a copy was made available to newsmen in Lagos yesterday, commended Justice Lawal for summoning what it considers uncommon courage to deliver a landmark judgment that affects the local government administration in Nigeria, stating that such a verdict would send a strong message to governors who treat Local Governments as their manor rather than an elected component of administration of the state as a unit of the federation.
Comrade Sulaiman who stressed that the weekend judgment delivered by Justice Lawal has reposed confidence of Nigerians in the ability of the Judiciary as the last hope for the common man and sustainer of the country’s democratic experiment, noted that “ Justice Abdulfatai Lawal of Lagos division will go down memory lane and Guinness Book of Records as Nigeria Judge who has displayed the courage and bold spirit in similar fashion as Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyede of Osun Division High Court of Justice, by giving the landmark Judgment to save the local government system in Nigeria ,particularly, in Lagos State from collapse and under-development.
“The only way to restore the lost glory of the Judiciary among Nigerians as the last hope of common man, is for the judicial officers to discharge their duties in transparent and honest manner and without fear or favour.
“ State governors in Nigeria have turned the third tiers of government into their baby whose fund they can collect and spend the way they want and this is seriously affecting the objectives and constitutional roles of the council areas in the land. But, with this landmark judgment, President Muhammadu Buhari should be be expected to summon emergency meeting of the State governors to make inquiry into the rationale behind the appointment Caretaker Committees, Executive Secretaries or whatever names they may call it in over eightfive percent(85%) of the local government in Nigeria. “ Continuing, he said such an expectation from the President is based on his promise during his inaugural speech that the Federal Government would properly monitor the 744 Local Governments in the country for the entrenchment of a democracy at the grassroots.
The group also cautioned the State governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode against illegal and unlawful arrest of the Market men and women that were going about their lawful business in the areas like Oshodi, Mile 12, Ojota, Berger, Mile 2, and host of other places across the State, alleging that the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency(LASTMA and Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) had cultivated the habit of arresting any relation of those arrested that came for their release/bail by extorting more money from them illegally. It stated that the actions by the state government agencies were contrary to the protection of citizens rights as entrenched in the Chapter (1V) of the amended 1999 Constitution and Section 98,99,& 494 of the criminal code Cap “C38” with cases and materials, extracts: ICPC ,Money Laundering Act 2010 ,Laws of the Federation, 2010 & also Section 172,209 and Fifth schedule, part (1), section 6 & 8 of the 1999 “FRN” Constitution as amended.
It describes the agency’s action as illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, unwarranted and insisted the group has concluded arrangement to fight against any anti-masses policies of the present administration in the state, adding that they would allow any government to return any part of the country into despotic dark days of military era.
Speaking further on the unlawful arrest of Lagos citizens by the State government , SLG boss faulted Lagos State government agencies on the illegal arrest and detaining of people inside the Black-Maria without trial, which is according to it amounts to the violation of their just fundamental human rights just as it is against the principle of natural justice of fair hearing and justice, supporting his position with the view of Honourable Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, in his treatise on ‘Human Rights in the political and Legal Culture of Nigeria’, that “…… Why are these rights inalienable? The simple answer is that they attach to man because of his humanity. Without them, there is automatic diminution of his humanity”.
Sulaiman added that Honourable Justice Kayode Eso in Ransome Kuti v. Attorney –General of the Federation (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt.6) 211,229-230, also noted: “But what is the nature of a fundamental rights? It is a right which stands above the ordinary laws of the land and which in fact is antecedent to the political society itself. It is a primary condition to a civilized existence”, adding that His Lordship also in Saude v. Abdullahi(1989) 4NWLR (Pt.116) 387,418-419 said: ” …. not just mere rights. They are fundamental. They belong to the citizens.
These rights have always existed even before orderliness prescribed rules for the manner they are to be sought”.
Comrade Adeniyi, Alimi Sulaiman, Convener, Save Lagos Group(SLG) +2348038591504 & +2348022697573