From the Court

Landmark Judgement 

 

ABIODUN
V.
CHIEF JUDGE OF Kwara State
2007 – Court of Appeal
Extract From Abiodun’s Case
DUTY OF COURT: Duty on court to ensure electorate not lightly deprived of rights to choose their rulers-] “Political office holders duly elected by the people should only be liable to removal by a college of their peers, who did not vote them into power, through the strictest adherence to the Constitution and other enabling laws. It is the duty of the courts to ensure that the electorates are not lightly deprived of their rights to choose their rulers. “It is also pertinent to note that the appellant was suspended before the panel to investigate him was set up thereby setting the cart before the horse. The suspension of the appellant was announced on 16/9/2005. The respondent is on a 2/3 resolution of the majority of the House of assembly. When did the investigation on the basis of the 2/3 resolution take place? The law is that there must have been the report of an investigation made to the Council Legislature indicting the Chairman, 2/3 resolution by the Local Government Legislature to remove him from the office before any action can be taken against him. There is no provision for his unilateral suspension by the Executive Governor of the State. When political office holders are duly elected by the people exercising their democratic rights to elect those who should govern them, they should only be liable to removal by a college of their peers (who did not vote them in) through the strictest adherence to the provisions of the Constitution and the Law. In my humble view, it is the duty of the court to ensure that the electorate is not lightly indirectly deprived of their right to choose their rulers due to unseeming political intrigues and in-fighting. It would be irresponsible of the courts to watch while the electorates are unlawfully deprived of the benefit of being governed by those they have voluntarily chosen to govern them.” Per Ogunwumiju JCA.
Abiodun v, C. J. Kwara State [2007 – Court of Appeal.
REMOVAL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHAIRMAN: Time limit for proceedings in respect of removal of Chairman of Local Government-] “By virtue of section 28(5) of the Local Government Law of Kwara State, 2005, within seven days of the passing of a motion under subsection (4) of the section, the Council Speaker shall inform the Chief Judge who shall appoint a panel of five persons who in the opinion of the Chief Judges are of unquestionable integrity not being members of the public service, a legislative house or a political party, to investigate the allegation against the Chairman of the Local Government. The provision is derived from section 188(5) of the 1999 Constitution. Section 28(7) of the Law provides that a panel appointed under the section shall within one month of its appointment report its findings to the Legislative Council. Section 28(9) of the Law also gives a time limit for the consideration of the panel’s report by the Legislative Council. Thus, section 28 is clear on the timing of impeachment proceedings by a Local Government Legislative House Kwara State. (Summary of the decision of Abdullahi JCA). “In this case, a careful perusal of subsections, 2(b), 3, 5, 7 and 9 of section 28 of the Local Government Law would reveal that the intention of the Legislature is to make the impeachment proceedings subject to time. Any interpretation of any of the subsections therefore that would defeat that intention violates the provisions of the Law. In the same way, any interpretation that would result in manifest absurdity ought to be avoided by the court. From the foregoing, if we agree with the submissions of the learned counsel for the respondent as indeed the learned trial judge has done, that the Chief Judge has no statutory limit within which to set the panel, then manifest absurdity would result, in which case even if the Legislative Speaker serves him with the notice of the resolution for the purpose of constituting the panel within 7 days as stipulated by the law, then the Chief Judge can go to bed until His Lordship at his convenience decides to set up the panel. With the greatest respect, this cannot be the intendment of the lawgiver who has provided in section 28(7) of the Local Government Law that impeachment proceedings should be completed within one month. I agree with the learned counsel for the appellant upon the authorities cited that section 28(5) of the Kwara State Local Government Law, 2005 which applies in full force to both the Speaker and the Chief Judge by the mandatory use of the word ‘shall’ which imposes an obligation on the former to, within seven days of the passing of a motion under subsection (4) inform the latter who shall appoint five persons to constitute the panel of investigation. Not having empanelled the investigation committee within 7 days but after 68 days, the Chief Judge again acted ultra vires his powers and the panel was unconstitutional, illegal and a patent violation of the mandatory provisions of section 28(5) of the Local Government Law of Kwara State, 2005. In the same vein, whatever findings may have arisen from such a panel constituted out of the time stipulated by the statute from which the Chief Judge purportedly derived his powers, were null and void, and of no effect whatsoever.” Per Agube, JCA.

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