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Friday, September 22, 2023

Court judgment on local govt election academic, says A’Ibom AG

The Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, has described as academic the judgment of the state High Court that ordered Governor Udom Emmanuel to conduct elections into the 31 local government councils in the state.

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State

Following legal action instituted by a private legal practitioner, one Nsikak Akai, challenging the legality of the present ad hoc arrangement where unelected persons are manning local government administration in the 31 local government councils in the state, Justice Ezekiel Enang of the Akwa Ibom State High Court, Abak division, had ordered the governor, who was the 1st respondent in the matter, to conduct elections to facilitate democracy at the local government level in the state.

In a phone-in interview session on Planet FM, a private radio station in Akwa Ibom, monitored in Uyo, the state capital by our correspondent, Nwoko advanced that the order of the court on the governor was academic in that “before (the) judgment came, the state government had already started the procedures” for the conduct of elections into the 31 local government councils in the state.

Prompted by the anchor of the programme, Ini Ememobong, who is also a lawyer, to expatiate on legal meaning of academic for the understanding of the general public, the Akwa Ibom State chief law officer said what the judgment contemplated had already started.

“Being academic means that what you seek to heal, the mischief you want to cure by an order of court, when that problem has already been solved by the time the order was made, it is no more a live issue to be addressed,” he said.

Nwoko said the court dissolved none of the 31 Transition Committees.

The judgment had stated, in part that “If the Transition Committee chairmen and members were made parties (in the matter), there would have been a consequential order restraining them from parading themselves as such.”

The judge added: “I hereby order the 1st respondent to without further delay conduct elections and usher in democratically elected local government councils in the 31 local government areas in Akwa Ibom State.”

Nwoko also explained that the word, “forthwith”, used by the trial judge in ordering the governor to conduct local government elections in the state, does not connote conducting the elections immediately after the judgment, but that it means that the process for conducting the elections must commence.

His words: “Democratically elected local government election cannot be bought in the super market and it cannot be manufactured by engineers; it is a procedural thing and the court does not make an order in vain neither does the law command the impossible.

“So when the court says ‘to forthwith’, what the court is saying is (for the government to) set the machinery in process (for the elections) to go ahead and arrive at that point (of elections and inauguration of democratically elected government at the 31 local government councils in the state)”.

Notwithstanding, Nwoko also said that the state government has already appealed, and filed for stay of execution of the judgment at the Court of Appeal.

By Chinyere Obia

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