The planned local government elections in Osun state slated for January next year may not hold as the Federal High Court in Abuja has temporarily stopped the release of funds for the conduct of the election.
The trial Judge, Justice John Tsoho, made the order on Monday in a ruling on a motion exparte filed by Kolawole Osekumitan and two others against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria, Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission, Minister of Finance, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Osun State Government, Osun state House of Assembly and the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC).
The court also restrained the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission or any of its agents from conducting election for any of the 32 Local Councils Development Areas (LCDA) purportedly created by the Osun state government, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The court, in the ruling also restrained the Osun state government from diverting any money released by the Federal Government as allocation to the 30 constitutionally recognised Local Government Areas in the state, whether for the purpose of running the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Tsoho also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) or any of its agents from releasing voters’ registers to the Osun State Electoral Commission, whether for the conduct of election into the LCDAs or any other related process.
The Judge made the order, “after hearing the submissions of counsel to the plaintiffs, Robert Clarke (SAN) that all the defendants were served with the Court Order and return of service were in the Court’s file and urging the Court to grant the Orders sought ex parte by the Plaintiffs or alternatively order that the status quo be maintained and that the defendants, being absent and not represented by Counsel, Justice Tsoho, granted reliefs1 to 5 contained in the Plaintiffs/ Applicants’ motion ex parte filed on 8/11/2017 which were initially declined are hereby granted, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for Interlocutory Injunction”.
The suit is adjourned to 23rd January, 2018 for hearing of the Plaintiffs/Applicants’ motion on notice marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1091/2017.
The court had earlier ordered accelerated hearing and abridgment of time to seven days within which the defendants are ·to enter appearance and file their respective responses in defence of the Suit, even as it granted leave to the Plaintiffs/ Applicants to issue and serve the concurrent originating summons and all other accompanying processes in the suit on the 7th to 9th defendants by substituted means, through the Osun State Liaison Office at No. 5, Plot 381 Nouakachott Street, Zone 1, Wuse, FCT, Abuja, Abuja.
According to the timetable released by OSIEC, a total of 37 LCDAs were to participate in the election slated for January.
Meanwhile, the Osun State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Ajibola Bashir said he was not in any way aware of such order stopping all processes regarding the state’s Local Government Election scheduled to hold on 27th January, 2018.
He said, “The Office of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice is not aware of any pending court action regarding the Local Government Election at the Federal High Court in Abuja and no court process has been served to our office”, he said and that OSIEC is not aware of any action at the Federal High Court Abuja and has not been served with any court process.
“Consequently, we have no basis to believe or give credence to the news which has not been credited to any credible information source”, he said.