The Ekiti State Government has begun the process of implementing the December 15 judgment of the Supreme Court on the relocation of the headquarters of Ilejemeje local government area.
The apex court had ruled that the relocation of the local council’s headquarters from Eda-Oniyo to Iye Ekiti 19 years ago was unknown to law.
In that wise, the state governor, Kayode Fayemi, on Friday constituted a committee to facilitate the implementation of the judgment.
A five-member team of justices of the Supreme Court unanimously ordered the Ekiti State Government to immediately restore the headquarters of the local government to Eda-Oniyo from Iye-Ekiti where it was relocated to shortly after the state was created on October 1, 1996.
The case was first filed by the traditional ruler of Eda-Oniyo, the Eleda of Eda-Oniyo, Julius Awolola, at the High Court of Ekiti State in 1999, to challenge the sudden relocation of the headquarters of Ilejemeje local government from his town to Iye-Ekiti.
The judgment which was read by Paul Galinje, upheld the earlier judgment of the Ekiti State High Court which had in 2001 affirmed that Eda-Oniyo was the lawful location of the Ilejemeje Local Government Area’s headquarters and also set aside the March 6, 2006 judgment of the Ilorin Division of the Court of Appeal which had ruled otherwise.
The apex court noted that the establishment of the headquarters of the local government in Eda-Oniyo was backed by statute and could not be relocated elsewhere without the promulgation of a new law.
Justice Galinj held that the act of the Ekiti State Government relocating the headquarters of the local government from Eda-Oniyo to Iye-Ekiti “has no legal basis.”
“The location of the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government in Eda-Oniyo is a product of statute and no law has been promulgated to relocate it to any other place,” he said.
Following the judgement, a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Yinka Oyebode, said a seven-person committee headed by the state’s Deputy Governor, Bisi Egbeyemi, had been inaugurated.
Other members of the committee are: the Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Ayoola Owolabi; and Vice President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Foluke Dada.
Mr Oyebode said members of the committee include the Chairman, NBA Ado-Ekiti Branch, Olakanmi Falade; a former attorney general and commissioner for justice in the state, Owoseni Ajayi; and the Executive Secretary, Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, Remi Obaparusi.
The committee is expected to advise the government on the administrative and practical implications of the judgment of the Supreme Court and consult broadly with affected communities and relevant stakeholders on the implications of the said judgement on the existing local government administration.
The committee also has as its terms of reference the task of undertaking “any other initiative that in its opinion would provide better clarity on the subject matter and enhance peaceful co-existence among inhabitants of the affected communities.”
The committee is expected to submit its report on or before March 29, 2019.