• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

LG chairmen’s tenure extension plot suffers setback in court

LG chairmen’s tenure extension plot suffers setback in court

As the fierce tussle for the control of the political power structure of Rivers State enters the New phase, a high court sitting in Port Harcourt has issued an interim injunction directing the maintenance of the status quo regarding the extension of tenure for elected local government council officials.

The battle is between the Nyesom Wike camp which controls the Rivers State House of Assembly and the Governor Sim Fubara camp which controls the Executive. Each camp now wants to capture the next 23 local councils whose tenures end next two months, but no election has been scheduled.

The Wike-controlled Assembly is attempting to enact a law asking the council chairmen to continue (tenure extension) but the Fubara camp would not want any of such. This led to a court action.

Read also: Wike draws battle lines as he calls Rivers political elders ‘vampires’

The court’s decision comes in response to the recent move by the House of Assembly to amend the Local Government Law Number 5 of 2018, to extend the tenure of elected chairmen and councillors.

Explaining the rationale behind the amendments, Martin Amaewhule stated that they were intended to empower the House of Assembly to extend the tenure of elected officials when it is deemed impracticable to hold local government elections before the expiration of their three-year terms.

However, the court has intervened, ordering all parties involved to maintain the status quo ante belum pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for the interlocutory injunction.

Presided over by G.N. Okonkwo, the court also directed the claimant/applicant to enter into an undertaking to indemnify the defendants with a sum of N5 million should the substantive case be deemed frivolous.

The court has scheduled April 22, 2024, to hear the motion on notice for the interlocutory injunction and has issued an order of substituted service of relevant legal documents to the defendants.

Read also: Wike vs Fubara: Camps now in auto-drive

The lawsuit was filed by Executive Chairman Enyiada Cooky-Gam of Opobo-Nkoro, Anengi Claude-Wilcox of Bonny, and five other elected council officials challenging the decision of the Amaewhule-led House of Assembly to extend the tenure of local government areas.

The defendants in the suit include the Governor of Rivers State, the Government of Rivers State, and the Attorney-General of Rivers State.

The claimants/applicants are seeking declarations that under section 9(1) of the Rivers State Local Government Amendment Law number 5 of 2018, the tenure of office of the chairmen and members of the 23 local government councils of Rivers State is three years.

They are also seeking injunctions to prevent the extension of the tenures beyond their designated period.