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ZAMFARA: LAWYERS GIVE CONTRADICTORY OPINIONS ON DISSOLUTION OF 14 COUNCIL CHAIRMEN

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Early this morning members of the state house of Assembly has passed a resolution instructing the executive arms to remove the 14 Local Government Council Chairman for reason missmangment of funds and lack of seriousness in handling security issues affecting the state. 
Many people have been raising concern on the legal basis of resolution and its consequences on the political development of the state. 
Thunder Blowers contacted some legal practitioners who shared their conflicting views on the matter. 

Barr Junaidu Abubakar Esq

1. The purported removal of the 14 Local Government Councils of Zamfara State by the Zamfara State House of Assembly made today 4th June, 2020 is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional. In fact, it is null and void as it is a clear violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and the Zamfara State Local Government Law, 2012.
Section 7(1) of the constitution under which a local government system, in Nigeria, is guaranteed, does not empower the state assembly to remove or dissolve and/or truncate any elected local government council or its member. The local government councils are not under any state assembly. The section only gives power to the state assembly to make law for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils. But not removal or dissolution of the councils. 
The Section provides:
“7. (1) The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”
So also Section 81(1)(a) & (b) of the Zamfara State Local Government Law, 2012 relied upon by the Zamfara State House of Assembly in dissolving the Zamfara State 14 Local Government Councils today, that section did not give the house such power.
According to the section “the Governor may, with the approval of the House of Assembly,  by order suspend the council or the member for a period not exceeding 3 months ….” where a council or any member fails to discharge its or his function under constitution or the law. Section 81(1)(a) provides.
Therefore,  the removal is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
2. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) did not allow for appointment of local government caretaker committee. 
Section 7 of the constitution provides: 
“The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; …”. However, no any system of local government in Nigeria other than democratically elected local government system is allowed in Nigeria. And it suffice to say that any law of a state assembly that provide for or gives power for appointment of caretaker committee for any local government in the state is unconstitutional, null and void and that law or section of the law shall be void for its inconsistency as provided for by Section 1(3) of the constitution. 
3. The Zamfara State Local Government Councils who were said to have been removed by the state assembly can challenge their removal before the court of law.
4. The next step for them to be taken, is to rush to court and challenge this action of the state assembly.
Finally I submit that, the action of the removal of the Zamfara State 14 Local Government Councils by the Zamfara State House of Assembly is against the law because of the following reasons:
1. There are two (2) pending court cases in respect of the local government councils which cases are still pending before the Zamfara State High Court of Justice. The first case is between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties in the state against the 14 local government councils members and their political party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Zamfara State Independent Electoral commission (ZASIEC):
ZMS/GS/25/2019 – ACCORD & OTHERS Vs. ZAMFARA STATE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION & OTHERS and the other one is ZMS/GS/ /2019 – HON MUHD UMAR & OTHERS Vs. THE GOVERNOR, ZAMFARA STATE and ZAMFARA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY. Both the two case are still pending before High Court III, Gusau presided over by Hon Justice Mukhtar Yusha’u Gusau.
2. This removal came as a surprise to the Zamfara State people because no body heard any accusation against the local government councils members. 
It is against the rule of nature justice. Because you can not be an accuser and a judge at the same time. The state assembly is the judge in their own case. Is there a fair hearing in the case? Were the councils given fair hearing? Were they given adequate time and facility to defend themselves? No.

Barr. Ahmad Kwatarkwashi Esq
1. Such removal as that of zamfara state assembly is unconstitutional, null and void. Reason been that, the enabling local government law currently in force does only allow the state assembly for investigation and recommendations to the executive governor for issuance of either suspension pending investigation and or removal where a prima facie case is established and as the case may be.
2. By the pronouncements of the court of appeal and that of the supreme court judgement in relation to elected  local government council members, and by extension the constitution does not allow for caretaker committee of the local government, except where those members were validly removed in accordance with law. 
3. Why not? They are at liberty to go to court as of right to challenge the action, however, it is to noted going by the manner and mannerism they came to that office is the same manner and mannerism they were dissolved, as the required due process of law is not complied in both election and removal.
4. (a) They may choose to go to court, seek for reversal of their illegal removal and ask for reinstatement plus all benefits if any.
Or 
(b) forfeit and sleep on their right by exercising latches and acguisance.
Barr. Bello Galadi Esq
By sec 22 (2) of the Zamfara State Local Government Law 2012, the Maradun LGC has the right to remove the LG Chairman by the resolution of 2/3 majority for gross misconduct, subject to ratification by the state House of Assembly. But they do not have the power to appoint anybody. 
Sec 81 of the same law empowers the Gov to suspend or dissolve a LGC or any member of the Council with the approval of HoA for a period not exceeding 3 months within which to cause an inquiry or assembly report, based on which to reinstate or declare the seat vacant. The Gov has the right to appoint sole administrator pending investigation or election.
In summary, in my understanding, both the LGC and the Gov can remove a council member, either under sec 22 or 81 of the LG Law, 2012, as the case may be, except that the power to appoint is vested with the Gov.
Also of importance is sec 36 (1) of the Constitution of the FRN, 1999 as amended which spelt rules of natural justice, in that a person is always entitled to fair hearing within reasonable time and must be afforded ample opportunity to defend himself. 

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The new amendment had also provided that, funds for the execution of development projects be credited to the account of the area development Council directly.

 

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A Bill for an act to establish Zamfara State Anti Thuggery Agency scales through first and second readings on the floor of the state house of assembly on Tuesday.

According to the House Spokesperson Nasiru Usman Biyabiki, the proposed executive Bill was presented on the floor of the house by the House Leader Faruk Musa Dosara.

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Speaker Magarya called on the committee members to work hard and accomplish the assigned responsibilities within the stipulated period.

 

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