LGAs Can Exercise Constitutional Powers with N’Assembly, Says Court

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

An Abuja High Court has declared that 774 local government areas (LGAs) across the federation have powers to carry out their primary constitutional duties without an Act of the National Assembly.

Also, the court has declared that 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 presiding judge, Justice Charles Agbaza made the declaration while delivering Judgment in a suit seeking clarification on the power of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) to name streets in honour of an individual.

The suit was filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Ogwu Onoja (SAN) challenging the FCDA) and AMMC to replace the road named after him by the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) with Amma Pepple Crescent’.

In his decision, the judge noted that the 1999 Constitution had already recognised and indeed accorded those functions as functions of the Local Government Areas or Area Councils.

He added that 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.”

The judge cited Section 1(g) of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution” to support the decision, directing the disputed street be restored in favour of the senior advocate.
Consequently, Agbaza restrained all FCDA and all its agencies from further tampering with the street named after Onoja. He also awarded the sum of N2m as general damages against AMMC.

Onoja had sought the court’s determination of whether the FCDA and AMMC or any other department of the Federal Capital Territory 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.

Onoja claimed that he received a nomination letter on July 27, 2017 requesting him to subscribe for street naming, averring that he paid N25, 000 nomination fees after his checks.

After the approval of the ‘Ogwu James Onoja Crescent’ on March 5, 2018, the senior advocate claimed that he was asked “to pay N7,000 per metre length and N3,106 per metre as social contribution to the Area Council.”

Onoja disclosed that on March 6, 2018 he paid N1m and another N1m on March 7, 2018, saying he changed his correspondences to professional colleagues and clients and also registered the location on Google with special code number 72649 on July 2, 2018.