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Court declares Ondo 33 LCDAs illegal

… Akoko leaders hail judgment

By Ayodele Popoola

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An Akure High Court on Thursday declared as unconditional and illegal the creation of 33 Local Government Development Areas (LCDAs) in Ondo state.

In a landmark judgment, Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye declared the creation of the LCDAs as inchoate, null and void, unconstitutional, and illegal.

The Judge held that the creation of the LCDAs did not comply with sections 7 and 8 of the 1999 constitution.

Adebusoye also agreed with the claimant that there was no equitable distribution of the council areas among the existing local governments in the state.

The court held that all the claims of the claimants which included the illegality of a governor to sign a law outside the state and other claims, were succeeded.

It will be recalled that leaders of the four local governments in Akokoland, had approached the court to challenge the creation of the LCDAs in the area, alleging marginalization of the area.

The Suit No: AKR/395/ 2023 was filed by some concerned Akoko indigenes led by Mr Lawal Ibukun Rogbitan and 21 persons with Registered Trustees of Akoko Development Initiative, on behalf of themselves and other people of Akoko Land comprising Akoko South-West, Akoko South-East, Akoko North-East and Akoko North-West.

The claimants requested the court to declare the creation of the LCDAs law 2023, purportedly creating 33 LCDAs in the 18 local governments in the state not valid — in accordance with the constitution.

The claimants argued that the creation of five LCDAs in the entire Akoko land comprising four local governments was signed on September 9, 2023, by the former Governor of the state late Oluwarotimi Akeredolu who was the first defendant in the suit,  and the Attorney General who is the second defendant and the Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly( third defendant) as not valid in the law.

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The suit is hinged on 18 grounds, which included the fact that the purported law signed on September 9, 2023, does not follow the normal process of creating new local governments as there is the absence of a request for the creation of such LCDAs,  which is unanimously supported by at least two-third majority of members of the House Assembly of the state representing the four local government in Akoko land in the Ondo State House of Assembly as well as the two-thirds majority of the member of legislative councils in the areas.

According to the claimants’ counsel, led by Tolu Babaleye, the suit is premised on the grounds that the 33 LCDAs were not created in full compliance with the Constitution, and also failed the natural principle of equitable distribution, fairness, and justice.

Babaleye stressed that the fact that the defendants did not take into consideration all the claims in the suit made the purported law unconstitutional, and ineffectual, and consequently, it should be set aside by the court.

His words: “We approached the court for an order to render the purported 33 LCDAs equitable, unjust, and invalid.

“ The purported law does not take into cognizance of the principle of population spread and it failed to take into account the mandatory description of Section 7 (2) (b) of the Constitution of Nigeria as amended.

“ It is also a law that was not signed within the shores of the state. The fact first defendant (Late Akeredolu) signed it in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State makes the law invalid.

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“ The defendants are bound to have regard to the common interest of the communities in the areas, the traditional association, and administrative convenience of the community in compliance with the mandatory requirement of the Constitution,” he said.

The bill for the creation of the 33 LCDAs was passed by the State Assembly, and was signed into law by the then Governor, late Oluwarotimi Akeredolu last year September.

Meanwhile, leaders in Akokoland, under the umbrella of the Akoko Development Initiative (ADI) hailed the decision of the court, saying it represented the true position of law.

The ADI in a statement signed by the claimants in the suit including former Speaker of State House of Assembly,  Bakitta Bello, Matthew Ofosile, and Lawal Rogbitan, said the judgment of the court represented the true position of law and the aspiration of the people of the four local governments of Akoko.

According to them, they noticed the lopsidedness in the recommendation from the Executive Council to the State House of Assembly for the creation of the 33 LCDAs, in July 2023, and made representation to the Government in letters addressed to the Governor and the Attorney General to correct the injustice meted to individual Local Government Areas and the entire Akoko land.

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