Our Reporter

A civil and human rights activist, Sesugh Akume has vowed to continue with the case he instituted against the powers of Benue state government to continue to appoint local government transition and caretaker administrations rather allow for elections to constitute legitimate leaders at that grassroots level.

He stated this following the ruling of the High Court of Benue state on Tuesday, presided over by Justice W I Kpochi which declined to declare as null and void, sections 3 and 21 of the Benue Local Government Law 2007 on which the state governor has been relying upon to appoint the caretaker administrations.

In a statement titled- “The Outcome of Sesugh Akume v Governor of Benue State & Others_ (MHC/182/2019),” he said the court refused to grant his prayers on grounds that as a non-voter, he has no locus to make such demands, even as declared that an affidavit he swore and presented to the court clearly stated that he was a bonafide voter.

He said- “The Honourable Mr Justice W I Kpochi, of the High Court of Benue State, Makurdi has REFUSED to declare null and void sections 3 and 21 of the Benue Local Government Law 2007, which empower the governor to appoint local government transition/caretaker administrations (or whatever names so called) as against having duly elected local government councils as clearly stipulated in the Constitution, and interpreted by the Supreme Court.

“The court, in its judgement finally delivered today (after 3 adjourned dates for the judgement) stated that I (the applicant in this suit) do not, as an eligible voter, have the ‘locus standi’ (the right to sue) in this matter, as I did not show sufficient proof of how my being disenfranchised from voting (when caretaker/transition committees are appointed, as against local government elections held) affects me alone, as a person.

“To be sure, in my affidavit I established that I am an eligible voter in Benue, I even provided my voter registration number, details of my polling unit, and a photocopy of my voter’s card.

“Second, an issue does not need to affect me alone, or as a person, before I can bring an action in court. As a matter of fact, in _Centre for Oil Pollution Watch v NNPC_ [2019] 5 NWLR(Pt. 1666) 518 (delivered on 20 July 2018, but reported on 15 April 2019) the Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgement of 7 – 0, held that ANY PERSON can approach the court in a public interest matter. Meaning one doesn’t need to be directly affected by a issue of public concern or the common good, or be personally involved to take it up. One therefore is tends to find this view of the trial judge rather strange.

“The outcome of this first, in a series of public interest lawsuits towards local government autonomy, in no way deters us or dampens our resolve. In fact, later this week, or latest next week we shall be instituting three (3) fresh suits in towards this end.

“I thank the erudite attorney, my brother, and friend, Moses Lubem Ukpo, Esq., for his brilliance, legal industry, resilience, and sacrifice in diligently pursuing this matter.),” Akume concluded.


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