By Adibe Emenyonu
Nearly 13 years after the dissolution of Edo State Law Review Commission by the state government, the Benin Division of the Court of Appeal has nullified the dissolution, giving an express order that their tenure will now run from March 25, 2021, the date the judgment was given, to August 25, 2025.
The state government in 2008 dissolved the state Law Review Commission headed by Elder Jonathan Ahimien (SAN). Other members of the commission are T. E. Ogbeide-Ihama and Mr. Edward Aibangbe.
The Law Review Commission was appointed by the administration of Governor Lucky Igbinedion and was retained by the government of Prof. Osarhiemen Osubor, but was dissolved by the administration of Governor Adams Oshiomhole after the appellate court pronounced him the winner of the 2007 state governorship election, and nullified the election of Osubor.
Members of the commission first approached the state High Court to seek reinstatement because the commission is tenured, but the lower court ruled against them after state House of Assembly had asked the governor to reinstate the members of the commission.
Not satisfied with the judgment of the lower court, the appellants, in a suit number: B/375/OS/2009, sued the state government. Joined in the case are the governor of Edo State, Attorney-General of the state and the state House of Assembly as respondents.
In the suit before the Court of Appeal, the appellants challenged the ruling of Justice N. A. Imoukhuede of Edo State High Court, who dismissed the claims of the appellants for being statute-barred.
In a unanimous decision, therefore, the three-man panel of Judges of the Court of Appeal in their judgment, delivered by Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewill, said the commission was a tenured committee and that the administration of Oshiomhole that dissolved the commission did not pass through the laid down procedure.
Other members of the panel are Oyebisi Folayemi Omoleye (JCA) and Dr. Frederick Oho (JCA).
In his ruling, Justice Georgewill declared that: “The dissolution of the Edo State Law Review Commission and consequent termination of the appointments of the appellants on November 24, 2008, without due compliance with the provisions of the Revised Edition Law of the state 2001 by the first respondent, the then governor of Edo State, is null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”
The court set aside the letter issued by the then Secretary to State Government (SSG) on behalf of the state governor, saying it was issued without compliance with the provisions of the Revised Edition Law of Edo State 2021.
He said: “An order is hereby given reinstating the appellants to their aforesaid position as chairman and members of the Edo State Law Review Commission to serve out the remainder of their five years tenure from April 28, 2008 to November 24, 2008, and thereafter from the date of this judgment being March 25, 2021 to August 25, 2025, totalling five years in line with Section 7 (1) of the Revised Edition Law 2001 of Edo State, excluding the period from November 24, 2008, to March 25, 2021, unless the appellants are removed in line with the provision of the revised edition law of Edo State of Nigeria 2000.”