An Edo State High Court sitting in Benin City, on Monday nullified the 2019 removal of the Chairman of Etsako West Local Government Area of the state, Mr Yakubu Musa, as illegal, null and void.
The court presided over by Justice V.O.Oviawe, delivered the judgement in suit no B/204/05/2019.
Musa was removed from office by Governor Godwin Obaseki in July 2019 over alleged corrupt practices based on the findings of an investigative panel set up by the state government.
The panel, had in its findings, recommended that Musa be “removed from office on the grounds of the negligence of duty, improper accounting and auditing of the council’s finances, lack of adequate supervision of staff and for allowing fraud under his nose”.
Delivering judgement on the matter, Justice Oviawe declared the action of the governor as “illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect” and set aside the removal.
The judge held that the state government failed to comply with the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Sections 20 and 21 of Edo State Local Government Law, 2000 (as amended).
The court further held that the removal of Musa from office based on the findings of the investigative committee using a criminal allegation of involvement in fraud of public funds without giving him a fair hearing is unconstitutional.
The court, however, failed to grant the order restraining the governor from interfering with the rights of the plaintiff because the tenure of all elected LG council officials in the state had since expired.
Reacting to the judgment, Musa said: “To me, it is a victory for democracy and victory for the people of Etsako West and I thank God for giving the judge the courage to deliver the judgment.
“I am very happy about it. I will go back and assure the people of Etsako West to keep hope alive. The future is pregnant and things will work according to the plan of God soon enough,” he enthused.