The constitutionality or otherwise of whose primary responsibility is it to undertake waste disposal within the Abuja Municipal Area Council
(AMAC) has remained the subject of legal debate seeking juristic interpretation at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1585/2020.
The Center for Reform and Public Advocacy (CFRPA), a non-governmental organisation had in 2020 taken out an Originating Summons against AMAC
and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). CFRPA accused AMAC of connivance with the Federal Capital Territory
Administration (FCTA) by relinquishing its constitutional responsibility of undertaking waste disposal in Abuja to the FCTA.
The NGO had further queried the involvement of the BPP in the process by its issuance of certificate of No Objection to the FCTA, a process CFRPA styled an illegality and a fundamental breach of the express provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, contrary to the tenets of the President Muhammadu-led administration in guaranteeing local government autonomy.
When the suit came up for hearing on the September 28, 2021, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory who had, by motion sought an order of the court joining him in the suit was served the counter affidavit of the Plaintiffs in opposition to his application in Court.
The court in its wisdom adjourned the suit to the 1st day of December, 2021. Expectedly, on or before the said date, the minister would, if he deems fit, cause a reply to the counter affidavit of the plaintiffs so that court would fix a date for the ruling on the propriety or otherwise of joining the minister of FCT to the said suit.
Recall that, the plaintiffs had among other reliefs sought a declaration of court that, by virtue of relevant constitutional provisions, the disposal of refuse and the receipt of payment for same are the constitutional duties of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and a further declaration that the BPP lacks the powers to
engage in procurement exercise for award of contracts for waste disposal to any company.
The plaintiffs had also sought an order of court restraining the BPP from further participating in the said exercise.
The provisions of Section 7(1) (5) and paragraph 1(h) of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) sought to be interpreted by the plaintiff reproduced verbatim to wit:
“The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.
“The functions to be conferred by Law upon local government council shall include those set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Constitution.
Paragraph 1(h) of the Fourth Alteration states:
“The main functions of a Local Government Council are as follows; (h) provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewage and refuse
These constitutional provisions are clear and unambiguous and it is trite that by the provisions of Section 1 (3) of the same constitution, wherever and whenever any law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail to the extent of the said inconsistency.”
The Plaintiff had expressed worry that, all over the 774 Local Government Councils that make up Nigeria, the involvement of the BPP and the FCTA in waste disposal was only in AMAC and not even in any of the other local governments that make up the FCT.
CFRPA had decried that such unconstitutional illegality as being perpetuated by BPP and the FCTA was against the commendable leadership prescription of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration that was jealously committed to preserving the rights and autonomy of the local governments in Nigeria.