The constitutionality of the 57 Local Council Development Authorities(LCDA) created by Lagos State government came to the fore again on Wednesday as a Federal High Court threatened to deny the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) access to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) register for Lagos voters ahead of the July 24 chairmanship and council polls.
The 57 LCDAs were created by former state governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu but were not recognized by the Federal government since they were not created by an act of the National Assembly.
The then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo because of the creation withheld to allocation to Lagos Local governments because according to him, funds meant for 20 Local government councils cannot be shared to unconstitutional councils.
The issue became a subject of litigation before the Supreme Court which decided that Lagos has powers to create local governments, but such councils must be approved through an act of the National Assembly. The court therefore declared the LCDAs inchoate.
The situation had remained the same since but the funds of Lagos state was released by the Federal government through a politically agreed solution.
However, the issue came up again because of the way the APC handed the local government primary elections wherein influence and godfatherism was the major factor rather than popularity.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke gave LASIEC seven days to show cause why it should not grant a prayer by an All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmanship aspirant, Raheem Rasaki Alani, seeking to restrain INEC from making the register for Lagos’ 20 Local Government Areas (LGA) available.
The judge made the ruling following Alani’s June 24 ex parte motion argued through his counsel Tope Alabi, seeking four reliefs.
Alani, a resident of and registered voter in Agege LGA, is the Plaintiff/Applicant while INEC and LASIEC are the 1st and 2nd defendants in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/677/2021.
He argued in his affidavit of urgency that LASIEC ought to conduct the election in accordance with the “constitutionally-recognised” LGAs in Lagos, and not based on the 57 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by the state, that it intends to use.
“I know that the 57 LCDAs wherein the 2nd defendant intends to conduct elections are a product of the unconstitutional Balkanisation of the 20 constitutionally-recognised LGAs in Lagos State,” he said.
He argued that the Balkanisation meant he and many others had been “unconstitutionally excluded from Agege LGA and put within the unconstitutionally created Orile-Agege LCDA,” and he would be denied the right to vote or be voted for, as well as be “robbed of voting to elect the chairman of Agege LGA or to be elected” its chairman.”
Alani prayed the court for an order restraining INEC from “giving, submitting and/or making” the register available to LASIEC for its use in the Chairmanship and Councillorship elections based on the 57 LGAs and LCDAs “or any other number of LGAs in excess of the 20 LGAs pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.”
He also prayed for an order restraining INEC from giving LASIEC any logistical support for the elections based on the 57 LGAs and LCDAs.
Lastly, he sought an order stopping LASIEC from preparing for the polls based on the 57 LCDAs.
In a bench ruling, Justice Aneke held: “Being an election matter and the process is ongoing, I shall give the defendant-respondent seven days within which the defendant shall show cause why the order should not be made against them.
“This case is adjourned till Wednesday, July 14, 2021. All parties to be served.”
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