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Moves to relocate Local Govt Headquarters hits the rocks in Bauchi

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

A case seeking to nullify the resolution of the State House of Assembly relocating the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state, from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu Town, has been dismissed.

The Bauchi State Chief Judge, Justice Rabiu Talatu Umar, dismissed the case filed on December 13, 2018, by nine plaintiffs for themselves and on behalf of the people and ethnic groups of Sayawa, Jarawa, Ngas and Sigdawa in Lere District of Tafawa Balewa area.

Rev. Sama’ila Banike, Mr. Sukar Jibra, Mr. Bulus Bature, Mr. Amos Baushe, Rev (Capt) Iliya Chiroma, Mr. Luka Magyana, Mr. Markus Goma, Mr. Azi Nyam and Pastor Bitrus Ajik, who are the Plaintiffs, had dragged the Assembly, the Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly, Bauchi State Governor, Bauchi State Government and Attorney-General of Bauchi State before the court.

They sought in their originating summons the court ruling on whether the Bauchi State House of Assembly has the power to pass a resolution transferring or changing the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu, and cause the said resolution to be given effect by the Executive Governor of Bauchi State.

They also sought the court’s declaration as to whether Section 3(6) and Section 8(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 2 of the Schedule to the State (Creation and Transition Provisions) Act, 1996, gave power to the State House of Assembly to change the headquarters of local government.

The plaintiffs sought a declaration that the state Assembly or any other arm of the State Government lacks the power to pass a resolution transferring or changing the headquarters of the local government, from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu, by virtue of Section 3(6) and 8(5) of the 1999 Constitution.

In their submission, the plaintiffs said that the state government lacks the power to pass a resolution transferring or changing the headquarters of the local government, from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu, saying that the second and third defendants lack the power to implement or give effect to such a declaration by virtue of Section 3(6) and 8(5) of the 1999 Constitution.

They also sought a declaration that it is only the National Assembly that has the power to change a local government headquarters as well as an order that the resolution passed by the Bauchi State House of Assembly transferring or changing the headquarters of the local council is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

Also in their prayer, they stated that the act of second and third defendants giving effect to the resolution passed by the State House of Assembly in transferring or changing the headquarters of the local government as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, and prayed the court for an order quashing the resolution passed by the state House on the matter.

They also asked the court to give a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants either by themselves, assigns, agents howsoever described, from further passing any resolution or taking any step to transfer or change the headquarters of the area, among others.

While delivering the judgment, Justice Umar held that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria empowers state Houses of Assembly to make law for peace, order and good governance of their states.

According to her, there had been series of crises in the affected area, which made it practically impossible for its smooth administration; and it is worthy to state that, Section 4(7) of the 1999 Constitution empowers the House of Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the state or any part thereof.

“This being the position of the constitution, I will be right to point out that the action taken by the Bauchi State House of Assembly was for administrative convenience, bearing in mind that there have been series of crises in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area, which has made it practically impossible for the smooth administration of the local government,” she said.

While explaining that many lives were lost, properties worth millions of naira destroyed during the series of crises that took place in the area, between 1991 and 2001, the Chief Judge added that, she is of the humble view that the action of the Bauchi State House of Assembly in relocating Tafawa Balewa Local Government Headquarters to Bununu Town not only backed up with the existing law duly passed but was also done to avoid the persistent security breach in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area.

She stressed that, “As far as this court is concerned, the resolution passed by the Bauchi State House of Assembly by the said relocation was done in the overall interest of Tafawa Balewa Local Government in particular, and Bauchi State in general, to forestall peace, order and good governance of the state.” In view of the court findings, Justice Umar held that she sees no merit in the application filed by the plaintiffs, dated October 30, 2018, and filed on December 13 of the same year.

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