Cancellation of mandate extension for Rivers LG councils, victory for democracy: G60 legislators

Opposition federal lawmakers in the House of Representatives known as G60 have described as a welcome development a ruling by the Rivers State High Court quashing the extension of tenure of local government chairmen and councilors in the state.

The Rivers High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday set aside the extension of the mandate of local government councils in the state.

This was because the court declared Local Government Law no. 2 of 2024, which extended the term of local government presidents six months after the expiration of their term.

Recall that the 27 legislators loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Nyesom Wike, in the face of a political crisis in the state, enacted a law extending by three months the three-year term of the current presidents of the LGA. .

However, the court, in its decision on Tuesday, held that the new law was inconsistent with the 1999 constitution and Section 9(1) of Law no. 5 of Rivers State of 2018, which fixed three years for local government chairmen and councillors.

The court ruled that the recent extension of the term of local government chairmen was invalid in suit number PHC/1320/CS/2024, a case brought by the Hon. Enyiada Cookey-Gam and 6 Ors v Rivers State Governor and Ors.

In his opinion, the Hon. Justice DG Kio declared that the Local Government Law No. 2 of 2024, which sought to extend the terms of presidents by six months, conflicts with the 1999 Constitution and Section 9 (1) of the Local Government Law of Rivers State No. 5 of 2018.

The court affirmed that the legal term of local government chairmen and councilors remained three years, as stipulated by the 2018 law, and emphasized that any attempt to extend the term was not only illegal but also violated the oath of the officials.

In reaction to the court ruling, the spokesperson for federal legislators, Hon. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, described it as a victory for democracy and the end of legislative supplantation in the State.

He therefore called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately conduct by-elections to replace the 27 legislators who defected from the PDP to the APC in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution ( as amended).

Ugochinyere said: “As we said a few weeks ago, the plan for the extension of the term of the Rivers State local government chairmen is “a legislative mischief and a blow against democracy that is dead on arrival.” Illegally extending the term of local government presidents by just a few weeks until the end of their term is an abuse of the legislative process that cannot be enforced. It is the height of legislative mischief and a blow against democracy that is dead on arrival.

“These men of the Rivers Assembly really acted like people who do not have the sacred mandate of the people. But we congratulate the judiciary for saving democracy. “We call on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission to immediately hold by-elections to replace the legislators who defected from the PDP to the APC in violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Constitution of 1999 (as amended).”