COURT UPHOLDS AUTONOMY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

 

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has declared that Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country can exercise the functions accorded them under the constitution without National Assembly enactment.

Justice Charles  Agbaza said the fact that the National Assembly was yet to enact a law to spell out the functions of the area councils as provided under Section 7(5) of the Constitution, does not divest them of their functions.

The pronouncement followed a suit by an Abuja-based lawyer, Ogwu, James Onoja, challenging the move by the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, and Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, (AMMC), to replace the road named after him by the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC with ‘Amma Pepple Crescent.’

“The constitution had already recognised and indeed accorded those functions as functions of the local government areas or area council; the law to be enacted is mainly to comply with the provisions of the constitution as the constitution had already under the fourth schedule assigned or accorded the local government councils or area councils the function which include the naming of streets and roads. See Section 1(g) of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution,” the judge said.

While restraining all FCDA and its agencies from further tampering with the street named after Onoja, the judge also awarded the sum of N2m as general damages against AMMC.

Onoja had sought the court’s determination on whether the FCDA and AMMC or any other department of the Federal Capital has the powers to demolish, dismantle or destroy street posts and signs mounted by AMAC in view of the provisions of Sections 7, 303, 328, First Schedule, Part II and Paragraph (g) of the Foùrth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.

According to Onoja, he received a nomination letter on July 27, 2017, requesting him to subscribe for street naming. And after his checks, he paid N25, 000 nomination fee. After the approval of the ‘Ogwu James Onoja Crescent’ on March 5, 2018, he was asked to pay N7,000 per metre length and N3,106 per metre as social contribution to the area council.

He further stated that he paid N1m on March 6, 2018, and another N1m on March 7, 2018, adding that he changed his correspondences reflecting the road name, which also harbours his law firm, to professional colleagues and clients and also registered the location on Google with special code number 72649 on July 2, 2018.

He narrated that he was surprised to find a parallel notice with the inscription ‘Amma Pepple Cresent,’ alongside his own in July 2018, and his inquiries showed it was done by FCDA and AMMC.

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