FCTA: Court sets Dec 1 on suit over waste disposal in Abuja

Dust will soon settle over the controversy surrounding who is responsible to dispose waste within the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC.

FCTA: Court sets Dec 1 on suit over waste disposal in Abuja

Dust will soon settle over the controversy surrounding who is responsible to dispose waste within the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC.

The development has remained the subject of legal debate, thus seeking juristic interpretation at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1585/2020.

Recall that Center for Reform and Public Advocacy (CFRPA), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) committed to the advancement of good governance in Nigeria, particularly in adherence to constitutional provisions and the preservation of the rights and autonomy of Local Government Areas in Nigeria, had sometime in 2020 taken out an Originating Summons against the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for alleged connivance with the Federal Capital Territory Administration by relinquishing its constitutional responsibility of undertaking waste disposal in Abuja to the FCTA.

CFRPA fingered AMAC for connivance with the Federal Capital Territory Administration 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 28th day of September, 2021, the Honorable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory who had, by motion sought an order of court joining him to 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.

You may 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 Bureau of Public Enterprise 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 are hereby reproduced verbatim to wit:

Section 7 (1) 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.

7(5) 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 disposal”

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. Juxtaposing these obvious glaring facts, one wonders why the situation in the Abuja Municipal Area Council should differ.

The Plaintiff NGO 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 Federal Capital Territory.

The Center for Reform and Public Advocacy 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. They have insisted and are committed to, using the instrumentality of the law and the judiciary, correct this abnormality that seeks to sabotage the extant provisions of the Constitution.

In all dealings as regards the suit at the Federal High Court, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Mamman Ahmadu has been commended by many for upholding the values that seeks to protect the subject matter pending the final determination of the case. This is evident in the Bureau’s commitment to maintaining status quo and desisting forthwith from engaging in any act or taking any further step inimical to the destruction of the rest till the final determination of the case.

With the just determination of this suit, many Nigerians have expressed hope will put the final nail on the constitutionality of whose responsibility it is to dispose waste within Abuja. As Nigeria continues to pursue true democratization, it is the hope of all, that justice will in the said suit, be served no matter whose ox is gored.