Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The leadership of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) in Oyo State has told the Oyo State House of Assembly that its resolution on Thursday July 16, 2020 that members of the association should return government property in their possession is ridiculous and mischievous.
Chairman of the association, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye, in a statement made a available to journalists in Ibadan on Sunday, told the parliament that the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division, on Wednesday July 15, did not set aside the three-year mandate given to the chairmen of 33 local government areas, and 35 local council development areas.
The ALGON had on May 6, 2019, obtained a perpetual injunction from an Oyo State High Court that restrained the state governor and the House of Assembly from sacking them. But on assumption of office on May 29, 2019, the administration of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under Governor Seyi Makinde sacked the 68 council chairmen. The administration also appealed the ruling, which was decided at the Court of Appeal on July 15th. The higher court set aside the ruling of the lower court on the grounds that it was speculative and premature.
Following the judgment of the Appeal Court, the Oyo State House of Assembly directed the 68 sacked council chairmen in the state to return all government property in their custody to their respective councils. The directive was given at a plenary presided over by the Speaker, Adebo Ogundoyin. The 68 sacked council chairmen were all elected on Saturday May 12, 2018 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that was the ruling party then. The lawmakers also solicited the cooperation of security agencies towards recovering the said government property.
But Abass-Aleshinloye said: “It has come to the notice of ALGON, Oyo State, that Oyo State House of Assembly passed a resolution recently directing all democratically elected chairmen and councilors in the state to hand over all properties of Oyo State Government in their legitimate care.
“This ridiculous resolution was passed purportedly acting on the July 15, 2020 Judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division in a Suit CA/IB/300 BASHORUN MAJEED AJUWON & ORS. V. GOVERNOR OF OYO STATE & ORS.
“ALGON considers the mischievous resolution as a product of dullards instinct, legislative rascality and a deliberate misinterpretation of a simple judgment written in simple English language, as another step by the government in its serial anarchism to impose dictatorship and culture of violence in the state since the case started over a year ago.
“Appeal Court never upheld the illegal dissolution of democratically elected local government by the state governor. It only allowed the Appeal by the State Government to challenge the High Court judgment we procured ever before Gov. Makinde became governor and not our mandate because it was never a subject of appeal in the first instance.
“The judgment had nothing to do with our elections or legalise the unlawful removal by the governor. The court only said that the perpetual injunction /judgment we procured after our election on May 6th, 2019. was speculative, hence it allowed the appeal of the state to challenge the judgment and not our May 2018 election and mandate which were never speculative.
“In anyway, Appeal Court couldn’t have run contrary to the Supreme Court precedent judgment, which clearly declared as illegal, null and void dissolution of elected local government by any governor or state assembly in Nigeria (as reaffirmed in Governor Fayemi & Ors V. Olubunmo & 13 Others)
“We hereby enjoin all elected chairmen, councillors, the media and citizens to ignore the repugnant and contemptuous resolution and never join the assembly in its self-imposed parliamentary confusion sauced with lies. ALGON sincerely appreciates the support and understanding of all discerning citizens as we proceed to the Supreme Court for final adjudication.”
The association has also written a letter to the Oyo State House of Assembly, through their lawyers, and copies of the letter were sent to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Inspector-General of Police, the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in the state, the state Commissioner of Police, and the Director of State Security Service.
The letter, dated July 17, 2020, and addressed to the Speaker, read in part: “We wish to state that in the eyes of the law our clients are still the democratically elected Local Government Chairmen, it would be absurd and illegal to rely on the unlawful dissolution of the Local Government Council by the Governor or the judgment of the court of appeal that has nothing to do with the unlawful dissolution made by the Governor and did not validate the unlawful dissolution of the council by the Governor to direct our clients to surrender the attachments to their office.
“We therefore humbly advise you and other members of the House of Assembly to apply for the judgment of the court of appeal, digest it thoroughly so as to avoid running afoul of the law.”