Constitutionality of LG Caretaker C’tee: How APC’s Utum Eteng fared in court against Ayade yesterday

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16 March 2017 The Cross River State High Court presided over by the State Chief Judge Hon. Justice Okoi Ikpi Itam has today in Suit No. HC/7/2017 filed by the State APC & 16ors versus Gov, CR State & 2ors handed down judgment in an Originating Summons filed by the APC as Claimant, challenging the Constitution of Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of the 18 Local Govt. and the need to hold Local Govt. elections as not to deny the applicants of their rights to contest.. In its ruling which favours the APC in part, the Court upheld reliefs 1, 2 and 5 of APC claims in its Originating Summons that: 1. A DETERMINATION whether the 1st Defendant PRESS RELEASE of 14th December, 2016 signed by the Secretary to the State Government wherein the 1st Defendant “directed all the outgoing 18 Council Chairman with the exception of Bakassi Local Government Council to handover to the Heads of Local Government Administration (HOLGA) in their respective Local Governments” is inconsistent with Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 2(1) Local Government Law 2004 which expressly guaranteed the existence of a  democratically-elected council in all States of the Federation including Cross River State continuously without cease therefore illegal, unlawful, null and void howsoever. 2. A DETERMINATION whether the Defendants’ refusal or neglect to uphold Section 7(1) of the Constitution to conduct Local Government elections, mandatorily provided in Section 197(2), Part II B, Section 4(a) of the 3rd schedule to the Constitution, Section 63(1) & (2) of the Local Government Law, 2004 created an avoidable constitutional vacuum which denied the Claimants their right to participate in a democratically conducted Local Government elections to their respective Local Governments and therefore a breach of the constitution. 5. A DECLARATION that the Local Government Councils envisaged in Section 162(5) and (6) of the Constitution to benefit from “the amount standing to the credit of the Local Government Councils in the Federation Account whose monthly statutory allocated by Section 162(5) pass through the Cross River State Government is meant and strictly so for the benefit of those councils which are democratically-elected and it continued existence guaranteed in Section 7(1) of the Constitution and not otherwise exist in breach of the Constitution.” The Court refused to grant reliefs 3, 6 and 8 while holding that reliefs 4 is unapplicable and 7 unenforceable. By this judgment, it is obvious that the Local Government elections for the 18 Local Government Councils fixed for 17/6/2017 will take place. It is now important to note that the issue of Caretaker Committee envisaged by the Ayade Administration is not visible again while the HOLGA will continue to hold brief until after the 17/6/2017 council elections. The Chambers of CHIEF UTUM ETENG hereby thank the APC as a party for giving it the opportunity to serve it as it charged APC leaders to avoid leadership struggle and step out in readiness for the 17/6/2017 election. BARR. JUDE OTAKPOR
(For: UTUM U. ETENG & ASSOCIATES
71B IBB WAY, CALABAR).