• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Court declares 33 Ondo LCDAs created by Akeredolu illegal

Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye of the Ondo State High Court, sitting in Akure, has declared the 33 Local Government Development Areas (LCDAs), created under the administration of the late Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as unconditional and illegal.

According to Justice Adebusoye, while delivering the judgement on Thursday, the creation of the LCDAS did not comply with sections 7 and 8 of the 1999 constitution.

BusinessDay reports that the suit was filed by four leaders from the four local government area in Akoko viz: Akoko Southeast, Akoko Southwest, Akoko Northwest, and Akoko Northeast, challenging the creation of the LCDAs and claiming marginalisation.

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The court also held that there was no equitable distribution of the LCDAs among the existing 18 local government areas.

Addressing journalists after the court session, Tolu Babaleye, counsel to the 22 plaintiffs, said the court held that the creation of the 33 LCDAs was “unconstitutional, null and void”.

Babaleye said; “We approached this court being the last hope of the common man. And today, the court gave a well-considered judgment which I call a judicial Tsunami, sweeping off all those illegally created local governments in Ondo state.

“Apart from that, there was a landmark pronouncement by the court to the effect that no governor is empowered to sign the law of a state outside the shores or jurisdiction of that state because the government has provided for a massive government house for a governor.

“So the governor has no right under the law to go to Ibadan to sign the law. Because of that, the law was nullified, declared unconstitutional and of no effect. So as I talk to you now, Ondo state has reverted to 18 local governments.”

While the Akoko leaders, under the auspices of Registered Trustees of Akoko Development Initiative (ADI), who file the suit on behalf of themselves and the people of Akokoland, commended the nullification of the creation of the 33 LCDAs.

A statement signed by the claimants in the suit, Bakitta Bello, Matthew Ofosile and Lawal Rogbitan, which was made available to journalists, however, described the court judgement as a true representation of the position of the law and the aspiration of the people of the four Akoko local governments.

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They disclosed that when they noticed the lopsidedness in the recommendation from the State Executive Council to the state House of Assembly for the creation of the 33 LCDAs in July 2023, they immediately made representation to the Government in letters addressed to the Governor and the Attorney General to correct the injustice meted out to the individual local government areas and the entire Akokoland.

But rather than heeding their request, the Executive Council forwarded its recommendation to the state House of Assembly for legislation.

The statement reads; “Given the protest at the House of Assembly by aggrieved citizens across the state, the House of Assembly adjusted her time-table which was designed to pass the bill in one sitting, to accommodate a hurriedly arranged public hearing on the bill.

“Representatives of local governments in Akoko presented memoranda at the hearing, which was backed up with adequate records and data to assist the House arrive at equitable decisions.

“For instance, Akoko South West which was the largest local government area in the state, with 15 wards and two state constituencies, had only one LCDA carved out of it, while Ose Local Government Area, with one state constituency, had one too.

“In the overall consideration, the Owo ethnic group with originally two local government areas was subdivided into eight LCDAs, while Akoko, that was originally four Local government areas, was subdivided into nine LCDAs.

“The fact that both ethnic divisions make up the Ondo North Senatorial District made the arrangement sinister. Despite the veracity of the data presented before the House of Assembly to prove the lopsidedness of the LCDA creation, the House went ahead to pass the flawed bill into Law.

“We had no choice as law-abiding citizens of Ondo State, but to approach the court for redress. Moreso, the bill was signed into Law on the 9th of September, 2023.

“The Court did not only make informed declarations that support our position, it granted sufficient reliefs to safeguard the aspirations of the Akoko people and indeed, other ethnic groups in Ondo State to coexist with one another in a peaceful environment conducive for even and sustainable development in our political, social, religious and economic life.

“We do not take for granted that justice will come to us on a platter of gold. We are, therefore, resolute and determined to always fight for it, no matter the obstacles that may come and the quarter from which they may emerge.

“We hope that the outcome of this process will serve as a guide to the Government and the people of our Sunshine State in the handling of our public affairs in the future, beginning from now.

“We should understand and implement our statutes for the good of all, without fear or favour, and focus, at all times, on fairness, equity and justice to build, jointly, the egalitarian society that we deserve.”

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