Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday fixed January 24, for ruling in an application seeking the setting aside of an interim order withholding Osun state Local Governments’ allocations from the Federation Account.
The suit was filed by three plaintiffs/applicants, namely, Chief Kolawole Osunkemitan, Chief Douglas Adeyinka Oyinlola and Prince Aderemi Adeniran Adelowo,
The defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation (1st defendant), Accountant General of the Federation (2nd), Central Bank of Nigeria (3rd), Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) (4th), Minister of Finance (5th), INEC (6th), Osun State Government (7th), Osun State House of Assembly (8th) and Osun State Independent Electoral Commission as the 9th defendant.
The court fixed the date after hearing arguments for and against two motions filed by the Attorney General of Osun state, Dr Ajibola Bashir, SAN, on behalf of the state government.
The two motions sought an order of court to set aside the interim order made by Justice Tsoho on December 4, which basically put on hold allocations accruing to the state government and the planned local council election in the state.
Moving the application dated 28 December, 2017, the AG of Osun state urged the court to set aside the interim order of injunction granted the plaintiffs because “it has lapsed by fruition of time”.
Bashir argued that by provisions of Order 26 Rule 12, an exparte order has an expiry date, (14 days) and provides that an application must be filed in order to discharge such an order.
The Attorney General submitted the fact that the court asked the plaintiff to put the defendants on notice “is an extension of the motion exparte”.
He insisted that “mere service of notice to show cause, does not convert an exparte motion to a motion on notice.
More so, Bashir argued that there was no where or document to show that the motion exparte was converted to motion on notice.
In addition, Bashir posited that the judge was functus officio when he granted reliefs he initially declined.
He therefore urged the court to set aside the interim order because the 14 days have elapsed.
In opposition, counsel to the plaintiff, Robert Clarke, SAN, asked the court to discountenance the application of the Attorney General of Osun state.
Clarke posited that the court clearly refused the motion exparte he brought on November 28.
“Being that there is no exparte order to set aside, the motion on notice filed by the 7th defendant has failed” Clarke stated.
He argued that “the proceeding of December 4, from which the interim order emanated from, was based on a motion on notice and not an exparte application.
“There was no motion exparte, it was refused by the court; therefore there is nothing to set aside” Clarke submitted.
Following the restraining order granted by Justice Tsoho on December 4, 2017, local governments in Osun state are no longer receiving monthly allocations from the Federation Account.
This will continue until a suit kicking against the planned conduct of election into the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) created by the State government is vacated.
The planned council poll slated for January 27, was also technically stopped with an order to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to cooperate with the state government.
Similarly, funding of the planned polls to elect new leadership for the local governments and the newly-created council areas was also put to a halt by the court which said local government monies from the Federation Account must not be used for the polls.
Justice Tsoho had earlier rejected the reliefs on the polls and monthly allocations when the motion exparte was first brought before him on November 28.
He had directed that the defendants be put on notice for them to show cause why the reliefs should not be granted.
But on December 4, the judge went ahead to grant five set of reliefs out of 10, which he had earlier refused.
The granted reliefs are: “An order of interim injunction restraining all the defendants, particularly the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants (AGF, Accountant General, CBN, Revenue Mobilization and Finance Minister) from releasing any money to the LCDAs purportedly created by the 7th defendant (Osun government), pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the 7th defendant from using or diverting any money released by the Federal Government as allocation to the 30 constitutionally recognised Local Governments of the 7th defendant, whether for the purpose of running the Local Councils Development Areas it purportedly created, or for conduct of election into the said LCDAs, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the 6th defendant or any of its agents from assisting, supporting or releasing Voter’s Register to the 9th defendant, whether for the conduct of election into the LCDAs or any other related process, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction directing the 2nd, 3rd. 4th and 5th defendants, to warehouse in an interest-yielding account, all the monies and or allocations belonging to the distorted 30 constitutionally-recognized Local Governments in Osun State, pending the determination of the motion on notice; and
“An order restraining the 9th defendant or any of its agents from conducting election for any of the 32 LCDAs purportedly created by the 7th defendant, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.