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How non-indigenes rule Lagos State since 1999, group tells court

Between 1999 and now, Lagos State have appointed more than 45 non indigenes of Lagos State as commissioners and special advisers to the detriment of Lagosians who by law, qualification, and competence out to be given such appointments. In the same vein, legislative houses both in the Federal and states were given to non indigenes rather than qualified Lagosians.

These and more forms part of a 65 paragraph affidavit sworn to by a lawyer, Mr Adeyemi Onikoro, in a suit by Lagos Advocacy Group(LAG) before a Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking to stop those in authority from giving preference to non indigenes at the detriment of Lagosians from all parts of the state. 

The plaintiffs listed past and present political office holders, both in the executive and the legislative arms who non indigenes of the state but have been at the helms of affairs to the detriment of Lagosians that are competent but not considered for such posts, saying it is against the spirit and letters of the Nigerian constitution.

Between 1999 and 2007, under the governorship of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, LAG mentioned 10 non indigenes who served as Commissioners in Lagos State. They are Henry Dele Alake from Ekiti as Commissioner for Information and Strategy. Mr. Wale Edun from Ogun State as Commissioner for Finance, Rauf Aregbesola from Osun State as Commissioner for Works (he later contested election and became Governor of Osun State and now the current Minister representing Osun State in the Federal Government), Fola Arthur-Worrey from Delta State as Commissioner for Lands, Ben Akhabueze from Anambra State as Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo SAN from Ogun State  as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice(now Vice President), Lai Mohammed from Kwara as Chief of Staff (he later contested election for the post of Governor of Kwara State and is a current Minister representing Kwara State in the Federal Government cabinet, Femi Lanlehin from Oyo State as Special Adviser, Opeyemi Bamidele from Ekiti as Special Adviser and Later as Commissioner. (He later contested and won election as a member, House of Representative and later as Senator to represent Ekiti State), and Tokunboh Afikuyomi from Oyo State.

In the last administration under Mr Akinwunmi Ambode as governor, LAG listed the following non indigenes: Babatunde Adejare as Commissioner for Environment, Steve Ayorinde as Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lola Akande as Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, WAPA, Ekundayo Mobereola as Commissioner for Transportation, Olufemi Odubiyi as Commissioner for Science and Technology, Benson Akintola Oke as Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pension, Eng. Adebowale Akinsanya as Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Kehinde Bamigbetan as Special Adviser for Community and Communications, and Olufemi Onanuga as Commissioner for Primary Healthcare.

The incumbent government of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu also have the following non indigenes at the helm of affairs: “Mr. Sanyannwo Gboyega as Deputy Chief of Staff, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo as Commissioner for Education, Dr. Idris Salako as Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Arc. Kabiru Ahmed Abdullahi as Commissioner for Waterfront and Infrastructure Development, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso as Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lere Odusote as Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Frederick Oladeinde as Commissioner for Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka as Special Adviser for Transportation, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye as Commissioner for Work and Infrastructure, Mrs. Lola Akande  as Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr. Sam Egube as Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Dr. Wale Ahmed as Commissioner, Local Government and Community Affairs, Mr. Afolabi Ayantayo as Special Adviser for Political and Legislative Affairs, Joe Igbokwe as Special Adviser for Drainage and Water Resources, and Mr. Tunbosun Alake as Special Adviser for Technology and Innovation”.

In the legislative arm, Onikoro mentioned non-indigenes that control the affairs of the state to the detriment of indigenes. They include Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan from Ogun State – representing Lagos West Senatorial District who before his re-election in 2019 was one of the aspirants for the post of Governor of Ogun State, the late Senator Adebayo Oshinowo from Ogun State who represented Lagos East Senatorial District and recently died was taken to his hometown in Ijebu, Ogun State for burial, James Falake from Kogi State while representing Ikeja  Federal Constituency went to Kogi State to contest as Deputy Governor of Kogi State,  Rotimi Agunsoye from Ekiti – is the person representing Kosofe Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the Federal House of Assembly, Samuel Adejare is the person representing Agege Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the Federal House of Assembly, Jimoh Olajide is the person representing Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the Federal House of Assembly, Ajokpa Oghere is the person representing Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the Federal House of Assembly, Owolabi Adisa is the person representing Ifako Ijaiye Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the Federal House of Assembly, Kuye Ademorin from Ogun State is the person representing Somolu Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the Federal House of Assembly, Olatunji Soyinka is the person representing Surulere Federal Constituency II of Lagos State in the Federal House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa  from Ogun State is the second time speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Rasheed Lanre Makinde is the person representing Ifako – Ijaiye in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Jubril Folajimi Lai-Mohammed from Kwara State and a second term Hon. Member of the Lagos State House of Assembly is the person representing Ikeja1 and Jude Emeka Idimogun is the person representing Oshodi – Isolo 2 in the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The plaintiff further averred: “Despite several complaints of indigenes of Lagos State, the defendants have also continued to ignore, neglect or refuse to appoint or employ indigenes of Lagos State into career posts or offices reserved for indigenes of Lagos State in the government and public service of the federation;

These facts accounted for low representation of indigenes of Lagos State in the Government and public service of the Federation and in Federal Institution in Lagos State. This made the Governor of Lagos State Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (5th Defendant) to recently publicly decried the situation and demanded for rectification of the imbalance;

Sometime in August 2020, the Commissioner representing Lagos State in the Federal Character Commission (1st Defendant) Mr. Abdul Wasiu Kayode Bawa-Allah also publicly admitted the low representation of indigenes of Lagos State in Federal Government organizations in the State and promised that the 1st Defendant will correct the Federal Character imbalance in Lagos State.

The Plaintiffs however observed that in relation to other states in Nigeria, the Defendants have always complied with the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Federal Character Commission Act and the Guidelines made thereto, in the appointment and confirmation of persons who are indigenes only into political public offices and career posts reserved for the indigenes of those state in the Government and Public Service of the Federation.

I know as a fact that at all material times from 1999, there are qualified and competent indigenes of Local Government Areas or Senatorial Districts of Lagos State that can be appointed into political public offices and other career posts in the Government and public service of Lagos State but the 5th and 7th Defendants have formed the habit of appointing and confirming the appointment respectively of people who are not indigenes to fill such offices and posts;

That despite several complaints by the Plaintiffs and other Lagos indigenes groups, the 5th and 7th Respondent has continue to appoint and confirm respectively people who are not indigenes of any Local Government Areas or Senatorial  Districts of Lagos State into political public offices and career posts in the Government and public service of Lagos State. 

I am aware that at all material times, there are qualified, competent and fit indigenes of Local Government Areas and Senatorial Districts of Lagos State that can be appointed into the above various offices but the non indigenes in control of the Government of the State will rather appoint their kins in preference to qualified and competent indigenes of the State.    

 LAG in the suit, an Originating Summons filed by Yakubu Eleto seeks  the court to compel the President, Governor of Lagos State, and other defendants to stop forthwith, the marginalization of the state indigenes in political and public service appointments. Other plaintiffs are Shittu Hakeem, Nurudeen Aregbeshola, Chief Muhammed Jamiu, Mr Gbenga Agoro, and Madam Titilayo Medeme Ogun.

The defendants include the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Character Commission, Senate of the republic of Nigeria, Federal Character Commission, Governor of Lagos, Lagos State Attorney General, INEC, APC, PDP, and a host of other federal and state agencies.

LAG seeks the court to amongst others, determine the following issues:

Whether in recognition of the diversity of the people of Nigeria, and the need to avoid marginalization of a section, forge national unity, and promote a sense of belonging among all the peoples in the country, all the defendants are bound to comply with the provisions of sections 13 and 14((3) and (4) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999(as amended), para 8, Part 1 of the 3rd schedule to the same constitution, Sections4 and 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act, LFN 2010 and the guidelines and formulae made thereto when exercising their respective power of nomination and or clearance of persons to contest election or of appointment and/or confirmation of appointment of persons to occupy political public offices or career posts in government of public service of the federation and the states in the federation.

Whether by virtue of the provisions of Sections 13 and 14 (3) & (4) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, Para 8, Part I of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution and Sections 4 & 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act LFN 2010, the 1st Defendant is obliged to monitor and enforce compliance by the 2nd to 19th Defendants with the provision of the Federal Character Commission Act and the established Guidelines and Formulae made thereto in the nomination to contest election or appointment confirmation of persons into Political Public Offices and Career Posts in the government and public service of the Federation of Nigeria and all the States in Nigeria including Lagos State.

WHETHER by virtue of the provisions of Sections 13 and 14 (3) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Para 8, Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution and Sections 4 & 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act LFN 2010, the 2nd and 4th Defendants in the exercise of their Constitutional power are obliged to appoint and confirm appointment respectively of persons who are the best and competent indigenes of Lagos State to fill political public offices and career posts or positions reserved for indigenes of Lagos State in the Government and public service of the Federation.

The Plaintiffs therefore seeks the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that by virtue of the provisions of Sections 13 and 14 (3) & (4) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, Para 8, Part I of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution and Sections 4 & 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act LFN 2010, the 1st Defendant is obliged to monitor and enforce compliance by the 2nd to 19th Defendants with the provision of the Federal Character Commission Act and the established Guidelines and Formulae made thereto in the nomination to contest election or appointment of persons into Political Public Offices and Career Posts in the government and public service of the Federation of Nigeria and all the States in Nigeria including Lagos State.

AN ORDER compelling the 1st Defendant to enforce compliance by the 2nd – 19th Defendants with the provisions of S.14 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended, S4 & 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act and the Guidelines and formulae made thereto in the exercise of their respective power of nomination of persons to contest election or appointment or confirmation of appointment of person into political public offices or career posts in government of the federation or Lagos State in relation to indigenes of Lagos State.

AN ORDER compelling the 2nd, 3rd, 11th and 12th Defendants to henceforth comply with the provisions of Sections 13 and 14 (3) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, the Federal Character Commission Act LFN and the Guidelines and formulae made thereto and to appoint/employ competent only indigenes of Lagos State into political public office and/or career posts reserved for indigenes of Lagos State in the government or public service of the federation.

An order of perpetual injunction restraining all the Defendants, their servants,, workers, agents or howsoever from further breach of the provisions of Sections 13 and 14 (3) & 4) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Para 8, Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule of the Constitution, Sections 4 & 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act LFN 2010, and the Guidelines and Formulae made thereto in relation to indigenes of Lagos State, either in the nomination of person to contest election or in the appointment of persons into Political Public Offices and/or Career Posts reserved for indigenes of Lagos State in the government and public service of the Federation or in the government and public service of Lagos State or as representative of Lagos State in the National Assembly.

At the hearing before Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa on Tuesday, the plaintiffs were represented by Yakubu Eleto, while the fifth, seventh, 13th and 19th defendants were represented by Olamide Ibrahim.

The defendants contended in their preliminary objections that the plaintiffs have no ‘locus standi’ to file the action and that the substance of the case is not justiciable. The defendants also contended that the suit was wrongly initiated by way of originating motions.

Eleto however faulted claims by the defendants that the plaintiffs have no ‘locus standi’ to institute the action. He submitted that challenging the ‘locus standi’ to maintain an action in respect of breach or non-compliance with the constitutional and statutory provisions as it relates to indigenes of Lagos State is misconceived and should be discountenanced.

After listening to parties, Justice Allagoa adjourned the matter to April 11, 2022 for judgment.

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