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Court stops Rivers from withholding LG financial allocations

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BY ANDREW OROLUA

A Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the Rivers State Government from withholding the financial allocations of the 42 Local Government Areas in the state pending the determination of a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction instituted by the Chairmen of the Council against the state and nine others.

In a ruling on Friday, the Court also stopped the Inspector General of Police IGP, Police Commissioner in Rivers, Director General, State Security Service, SSS and Director, State Security Service SSS from withdrawing the security personnel of the local government Chairmen pending the final resolution of the their motion on notice.

Justice James Kolawole Omotoso issued the order for status quo to be maintained by the parties in the matter marked FHC/ABJ/CS/537/2024.

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Delivering ruling in an ex-parte application argued by counsel to the Chairmen, Aliyu Hussein, the Judge directed the Rivers State Government not to frustrate or prevent the local government Chairmen from discharging their duties and rendering services to their respective councils till the determination of the suit.

The Chairmen had in the ex-parte application prayed for an order of interim injunction restraining 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 pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice.

They also sought order of the Court restraining the IGP, Commissioner of Police in Rvers, DG, SSS, Director, SSS in River’s and AGF from withdrawing the security personnel attached to them.

They also sought order prohibiting 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 and that Rivers State House of Assembly Enacted Rivers State Amended Law to guide their affairs and activities.

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

The Council Chairmen asked the court to restrain the defendants especially the Rivers State Government from taking the law into its hand.

They promised to undertake to pay for damages if their suit turns to be frivolous.

However, Justice Omotoso in a brief ruling ordered that all parties in the suit should maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

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

Part of the ruling read “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 plaintiffs 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 are 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 local government area among others.

The defendants are IGP, CP Rivers, DG SSS, Director SSS Rivers, AGF, Chairman Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Rivers State Government, AG Rivers State and Finance Commissioner in Rivers State as 1st to 9th defendants.

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