Case concerning the dismissal of elected council officials in Benue will be heard in court on May 23
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Case concerning the dismissal of elected council officials in Benue will be heard in court on May 23

A case challenging the state’s unlawful dismissal of elected local government officials and the subsequent appointment of caretaker committees in breach of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has been scheduled to be heard by Justice P. T. Kwahar of the Benue State High Court, sitting in Makurdi, on May 23, 2024.

An activist named Sesugh Akume sued the governor of Benue and four others in a case with the case number MHC/346/2023.

In his lawsuit, Akume claims that Governor Hyacinth Ali’s administration violated the state’s constitution by removing democratically elected council chairmen and councillors and replacing them with friends and family.

You may remember that Akume took Governor Ali, the Attorney-General, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Special Adviser of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and the rest of the state government to the Benue State High Court in a private citizen’s lawsuit.

According to Akume, the local government system is now completely bereft of leadership due to Governor Ali’s unjustified decision to dismiss or indefinitely suspend elected officials since June 23, 2023.

According to him, the Constitution of 1999 establishes democratically elected local government councils as the highest authority, to which all other laws must submit.

Saturday, Akume personally signed a statement in which he announced that the court had scheduled the preliminary ruling for May 23.

“Concurrently, the case of Sesugh Akume v Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) (with suit number MHC/449/2024) has been scheduled for 23 May to be heard before the Honorable Mr. Justice J. M. Shishi in Makurdi. The purpose of the hearing is to compel BSIEC to hold local government elections in preparation for the swearing-in of the incoming administrations on 29 June, when the term of the current officials expires.

“The courts are undergoing renovations,” is the stated rationale in both cases. Typically, the Nigerian judicial system takes a two-month break from July to August and then returns in September.

In the first case, we are anticipating that the court will consider our request to halt the current proceeding until it determines whether it has the jurisdiction to hear our case. However, before making a decision, the court should adopt or hear all of our processes, including our amended originating summons. Failure to do so would be considered premature, a miscarriage of justice, a violation of court rules, etc.

“In the latter case, we anticipate that the court will consider our request to expedite the hearing and resolution of our case to compel BSIEC to hold local government elections and have the victors prepared to take the oath of office within the next five weeks, as is customary,” the plaintiffs wrote. This is a paragraph from the statement.

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