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Abuja Court Restrains Rivers Govt From Withholding Local Govt Allocations/Funds

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, barred the Rivers State Government from withholding financial allocations of the 23 Local Government Areas, LGAs, in the state, pending the determination of a suit that was brought before it.

The court, in the ruling that was delivered by Justice James Omotosho, further directed parties in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/537/2024, which was filed by LGA Chairmen in the state and nine others, to maintain status quo, pending the determination of the matter.

More so, it stopped the Inspector General of Police IGP, Police Commissioner in Rivers, Director General, State Security Service, SSS and its Director, who were cited as defendants in the matter, from withdrawing the security personnel of the LG Chairmen, pending the final resolution of the their motion on notice.

The ruling followed an ex-parte application the plaintiffs argued through their lawyer, Mr. Aliyu Hussein.

Justice Omotosho held that the Rivers State Government should not frustrate or prevent the LG Chairmen from discharging their duties and rendering services to their respective councils till the determination of the suit.

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Specifically, the plaintiffs approached the court, praying it for an order of interim injunction to restrain the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Chairman, Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Rivers State Government, Attorney General of Rivers and Commissioner for Finance, from witholding the revenue accrued to them.

They also sought order of the court to restrain the IGP, Commissioner of Police in Rivers, the SSS, its Director, SSS in Rivers and the AGF, from withdrawing the security personnel attached to them.

They equally prayed the court to prohibit the defendants from preventing the enforcement or implementation of the newly amended Rivers State Local Government Law N:5 of 2024 pending the determination of the motion.

In a 33-paragraph affidavit in support of the application deposed to by Dr Chidi LLoyd, Chairman of Emohua Local Government, the Chairmen claimed to have been duly elected in a democratically conducted election for a term of three years under the provisions of the Rivers State Local Government Law.

They asserted that they are autonomous and constitutionally recognized as one of the tiers of the government, adding that the Rivers State House of Assembly enacted Rivers State Amended Law to guide their affairs and activities.

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They claimed that Rivers State Government, AG and Finance Commissioner, who are not happy with the amended law, have approached the IGP, CP, DG SSS and Director SSS, seeking the withdrawal of policing and other security services from them in order to frustrate the implementation of the amended law.

The Chairmen alleged that the Police Commissioner in the state who has the responsibility to advise IGP on the policing and security needs of Rivers State is under substantial control of Rivers State Government and would implement the directive of the state government.

They averred that it would be impossible for them to carry out their respective functions and duties without the policing and security services of the IGP.

Consequently, they prayed the court to restrain the defendants, especially the Rivers State Government, from taking the law into their hands.

In his ruling, Justice Omotoso ordered all parties in the suit to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

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The Judge warned that no party should take any step that would make the motion on notice nugatory.

“The plaintiffs are hereby ordered to serve the motion on notice seeking for interlocutory injunction on the defendants to enable them have the opportunity to respond to same.

“That this matter is adjourned to 2nd day of May, 2024 for the hearing of the motion on notice,” the court held.

Cited as plaintiffs in the matter, are: Dr Chidi LLoyd, Chairman, Emohua Local Government, Hon Alwell Ihunda Chairman, Port Harcourt local government, Dr Nwanosike Samuel, Ikwerre local government area, Barrister George Ariolu, Chairman, Obio-Akpor local government, Dr Obbinna Anyawu, Chairman, Etchi local government area and Hon Chidorom Nwaiwu, Chairman, Omuma local government area.

Others include: Dr Hope Ikiriko, Chairman, Ahoada West local government area, Barrister Benjamin Isreal Eke, Chairman, Ahoada East Local Government and Dr Roland Sekibo, Chairman, Akuku-Toru LGA.

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