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Imo: Sacked LG Bosses’ Case Thrown Out By Supreme Court

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Friday was a day of reckoning for Imo State‘s former Local Government Chairmen, as the Supreme Court’s verdict slammed the door shut on their desperate bid for redemption, leaving them with nothing but the bitter taste of defeat.

And in an affirmation of their fallen fortunes, the highest court in the land delivered a unanimous verdict, its five justices speaking with one voice to dismiss the appeal and shatter any lingering hopes of a legal reprieve.

Justice Sadiq Abubakar Umar delivered the lead judgment in the appeal, marked: SC/537/2016 filed against the Imo State Governor and others by the ex-Local Government Chairmen, led by Barrister Enyinna Onuegbu.

Justice Umar affirmed the earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri division, which equally upheld the decision of the trial court that the suit was an abuse of court process.

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The Court of Appeal had held that a similar suit existed between the same parties on the same issue.

Imo State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, C. O. C. Akaolisa (SAN), who was in court on Friday, commended the apex court for its decision, which he said, has cleared the way for Imo State to conduct Local Government elections.

He said the Imo State Government has been waiting for the outcome of the case to enable it to conduct elections at the Local Government level.

“The state government decided to await the Supreme Court’s decision in this case before conducting Local Government elections.

“We didn’t want to be seen to be disrespecting the court. It was out of respect to the court that we decided to wait.

“Today, the court has dismissed the action filed by the former local government Chairmen, contending their tenure. The state is now free to conduct Local Government elections.

“The state’s election commission has already published notice of election. So, now, nothing is hindering us from conducting the election,” Akaolisa said.

Back in June 2011, Rochas Okorocha, then the newly minted Governor of Imo State, made waves with his first broadcast, announcing the ousting of Local Government Chairmen who had been elected under the previous administration of Ikedi Ohakim’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

As part of his administrative overhaul, Okorocha introduced a new layer of leadership, appointing Transitional Committee Chairmen to steer the 27 local governments, effectively displacing the previously elected officials.

The former council chiefs refused to go down without a fight, initiating dual legal challenges – one in the state’s highest court and another in the Federal High Court – to contest their removal.

The trial court struck down one of the lawsuits, characterizing it as a needless duplication of efforts, yet the former Local Government leaders persevered, lodging an appeal to challenge the ruling.

On November 20, 2016, the Owerri Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s verdict, but the former council chiefs continued their legal fight, petitioning the Supreme Court to intervene.

The  Eastern Updates 

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