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Court to hear case against suspension of Benue LG chairs May 8

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A high court in Benue has fixed May 8 for hearing of the case against the suspension of Benue LG chairpersons.

In June 2023, the Benue house of assembly approved the suspension of all the 23 LG chairpersons in the state over allegations of financial misappropriation, following a letter by Hyacinth Alia, governor of the state.

The governor had requested an investigation into the incomes and expenditures of the LGA chairpersons.

Sesugh Akume, a businessman in Benue, in a suit marked MHC/346/2024, prayed the court to reinstate the suspended LG chairpersons.

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Joined as first and second respondents in the suit are Hyacinth Alia, governor of Benue; the state attorney-general, with the speaker of the Benue house of assembly as the third respondent.

The fourth and fifth respondents are the Benue house of assembly and the special adviser to the governor on local government and chieftaincy affairs.

The counsels to the respective respondents had filed notices of preliminary objection and counter affidavits along with exhibits and written notices.

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The respondents in their submissions held that the applicant lacks the locus standi to challenge the suspension of the chairpersons.

The applicant argued that the suit is a public interest one filed in good faith, an active and responsible citizen’s effort towards local government autonomy, and towards entrenching democracy at the local government level and ending the culture of impunity at the local government tier.

He said the facts and arguments in the matter are based on constitutional provisions, statutory provisions, established principles of law and judicial precedents.

During proceedings on Tuesday, Akume prayed the court to extend time for him to file responses to the respondents’ notices of preliminary objections — which was granted.

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PT Kwahar, the presiding judge, adjourned the matter to May 8 for ruling on the preliminary issues, after which another date will be set for judgment.

The tenure of the suspended LG chairpersons will elapse on June 29.

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