The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reinstated the 21 Local Government area chairmen sacked by the Kogi State Governor, Captain Idris Wada, retd, [pictured above].
This development is coming barely weeks before the 2015 gubernatorial election of the state coming up on November 21, 2015.
Governor Idris Wada had sacked the Local Government Council Chairmen on December 9, 2014 following a High Court ruling in Koton Karfe.
The appellate court panel of Justices headed by Justice Mustapha Mohammed, in a judgement yesterday, voided the sack of the LG Chairmen, recalling them alongside all their councillors.
The appellate court disapproved the replacement of all the LG chairmen and their councillors and went ahead to set aside the earlier verdict of the High Court in Kogi.
Justice Mohammed held that the appellants were wrongfully removed from office before the expiration of their tenure.
The Koton Karfe High Court had cancelled the May 4, 2013 local government election that produced the 21 Local Government Chairmen.
The court also ruled that the sack of the local government officials was based on the improper composition of the state Independent Electoral Commission (KOSIEC) and declared its activities as null and void.
The decision of the trial court followed a suit that was filed by the Kogi State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC which dragged the state government, KOSIEC and the council chairmen before the court, contesting the composition of KOSIEC and subsequent conduct of the local government elections in the state.
The trial judge, Justice Ajileye had explained that the action of KOSIEC, its chairman and other members, ran contrary to section 200(1) of 1999 Constitution as amended and thereby declared the composition of KOSIEC as unconstitutional, illegal and void.
According to him, the aforementioned section of the constitution, was designed by the lawmakers to promote the principle of fairness, independence and transparency, stressing that it was also to express the notion of neutrality.
He therefore ruled: “As an umpire, KOSIEC must not only be neutral, but manifestly be seen to be neutral.
“Given the neutrality of these notions of neutrality and transparency, embedded in the work and function of KOSIEC, it will be inappropriate to interpret section 200(1) of the Constitution as amended in a way suggesting that the chairman of such commission can go completely out of his way, not only to join a political party but proceed to contest the primaries of an election under the umbrella of a political party and come back to organise an election involving his party and other political parties as it happened in this case.
“And this is after the constitution had been amended in terms of section 200(1) of the constitution as amended, he pointed out the truth is that the constitution has by that singular act been violated the tincture of impunity.
“I therefore hold that the membership of 4th and 5th defendant of 3rd defendant including the contest of primaries by the 4th defendant under the platform of the 9th defendant (PDP) compromised, irredeemably, the integrity and neutrality of 3rd defendant to hold May 4, 2013 local government election in Kogi State,” he had ruled.
In view of the aforementioned, however, the appellate court overruled Justice Ajileye yesterday and nullified the dissolution that was carried out by Governor Wada in 2014.