Imo LGs: Court Dismisses Ex-Council Chairmen Suit On Tenure Elongation

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An Owerri high court presided over by Hon. Justice Ngozi Opara has on Monday dismissed the suit filed by former council chairmen seeking for
elongation of their two-year tenure which expired August 8, 2012.

Justice Opara in his judgment reviewed submissions by the parties and
dismissed the case on gross abuse of court processes by the former
council chairmen.

Counsel to the state government, Niyi Akintola SAN had argued that the
court lack jurisdiction to hear the case since the claimants had
served out their tenure as contained in the court of Appeal Judgment
of May 5, 2012, pointing out that hence same case is pending at the
Abuja Federal High court hearing it in a court with same jurisdiction
will translate to abuse of court processes.

He further argued that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear
the case as it lacks the powers to elongate tenured position of the
former council chairmen against the provisions of the law as amended
by Imo State House of Assembly and duly assented by the former
Governor of the state.

In his argument, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for
Justice, Barr. Soronnadi Njoku argued that the former chairmen had
served out their term stating that the court has no jurisdiction to
hear the case as Court of Appeal in its Judgment clearly pointed out
that the former chairmen never left office.

Barr. Njoku contended that the judgment only ordered them to go back
and serve out their tenure considering their submission that they were
only serving a two-year tenure following their inauguration on August
9, 2010.

In their argument, the counsel to the former chairmen, D.O. Agbo Esq.
contended that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case, stating
that the tenure of his clients was unconstitutionally and illegally
truncated by their sack on May 6, 2011 and that since they were out of
office for more than a year, their tenure should be elongated to
regain the lost period.

He argued that the two-year tenure was signed after they had started
their election process on February 25, 2010 and that the law should
not be in retrospect. The counsel further argued that hearing the case
does not in any way amount to abuse of court processes because the
defendants have not been able to prove to the court that a similar
suit is going on elsewhere since no certified court process has been
tendered before the court.

But counsel to the state government, Chief Adeniyi Akintola confirmed
tendering a process of the suit in Abuja court which had the same
particulars with the same case in Owerri high court.

In his judgment, Justice Opara said though the court has jurisdiction
to hear the case, it however lacks the powers to elongate the tenure
of an elective position and that continuing with the case will amount
to abuse of court processes since there is a similar suit in Abuja
high court. He dismissed the case and awarded a cost of N40,000.00
against the claimants.

Speaking after the courts judgment, the Attorney-General and
Commissioner for Justice, Chief Soronnadi Njoku averred that the
former council chairmen have served out their tenure and does not have
any other business in the councils. He wondered how they could claim
that a law signed on 23rd June, 2010 while they were inaugurated on
9th August, 2010 should not be in retrospect.

It could be recalled that the former chairmen elected under the
platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) went to court after serving
out their term on August 8, 2012 seeking for tenure elongation.


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