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Legal Tussle: Niger Govt., Assembly Lost Out In Court



Gov. Sanni Bello

By Hammed Salawu, Minna
A New Bussa High court in Niger state  has ruled against the Niger state government and the State House of Assembly in the suit filed by the Social Democratic Party 14 other registered political parties , and five local government councillors over the reduction of  the tenure of local governments in state.
The court presided  over by Justice Mohammed Mohammed ruled that the State House of Assembly in particular lacked the power to amend the  local government (amendment ) law  2016 of Niger state published as Niger legal notice No1  as it did to  which Governor Abubakar Sani Bello appended his signature to make it become law.
The Social Democratic Party and  19 others had initially initiated the suit by way of originating summons on November 15, 2017 but amended their process pursuant to an application dated 7th December which was filed before the court on 11th December and was deemed amended on 14th  December 2017.
In a 37 page judgement which lasted almost 3 hours, Justice Mohammed Mohammed held that the failure of the 1st 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 the issue of whether or not the 1st defendant had powers to ” make laws reducing the tenure of elected local government councils in Niger state from three years to two years” Justice Mohammed Mohammed declared that : ” 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 does not extend to power to either extend or reduce the tenure of elected local government councils in Niger state”
Justice Mohammed further submitted that “where a law is invalidated it would be as if it had never been and the old law will subsist” adding that ” 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 the claims of the plaintiffs.
Justice Mohammed directed that 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”.

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