BY ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA—THE Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu has withdrawn the autonomy granted 68 autonomous communities created in Anambra State in 2003, saying that they should remain in their original communities.
Anambra State government had in 2003 during the administration of Dr. Chinweoke Mbadinuju created 68 autonomous communities from the existing 177 communities and granted them autonomy.
However, in 2006, during the administration Dr. Chris Ngige, the Mike Balonwu-led House of Assembly repealed the law creating the 68 autonomous communities. Not happy with the action of the House, the 68 communities approached an Awka High Court for redress.
The court presided by Justice Nri Ezeadi in December 2006 declared the decision of the Anambra State House of Assembly illegal, null and void and allowed the communities to remain autonomous.
Anambra State government proceeded to the Court of Appeal in 2007 to challenge the decision of Justice Ezeadi.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Adamu Jauro, the Court Appeal set aside the decision of the Awka High Court.
According to the court, the constitutional right of the members of autonomous communities was not violated as they still have their various original communities to operate with.
According to Justice Jauro, what was removed was the recognition granted the communities by the government and not the right for them to freely associate, saying that they retain their right to associate in their original communities from where they were carved out.
In a swift reaction, the communities rejected the judgment and vowed to challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court.