The dissolution of of local government administrations in Oyo State by Governor Seyi Makinde soon after he assumed office in May 2019 has continued to raise dust.
The local government chiefs were sacked by the governor and new caretaker committees were inaugurated barely two months ago for the councils.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), has asked Makinde reverse his action, and reinstate the sacked administrators.
But the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has joined its voice to the issue, by calling on the Local government caretakers committees to ignore the position of Malami.
The AGF had passed his directive, in a letter dated January 14, 2020, addressed to the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, Prof. Oyewo Oyelowo.
The letter, marked HAGF/OYO/2020/Vol.I/I., was titled, ‘Unconstitutionality of dissolution of elected local government councils and appointment of caretaker committee: the urgent need for compliance with extant judicial decisions.’
The AGF said in view of the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter that is binding on all the 36 states of the federation, “The common practice by some state governors in dissolving elected local government councils is unconstitutional, null and void.
“So, any system of local government run by caretaker committee is illegal and unconstitutional.
“I hereby request all state governors and speakers of state House of Assembly, who are currently acting in breach of the provisions of Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and also acting in disobedience of the Supreme Court judgment highlighted above to immediately retrace their step by ensuring compliance with the above in the overall interest of the rule of law and our democracy.
“The need to immediately disband all caretaker committee and restore democratically elected representatives to man the local governments has, therefore, become obligatory.
“Mr President and other relevant agencies will be advised further on compliance measures that should be taken in national interest.”
Copies of the letter were sent to the Inspector-General of Police; Director-General, DSS; acting Chairman of the EFCC and the NFIU.
Meanwhile, the PDP in a statement by its spokesperson, Akeem Olatunji, said the Constitution did not empower the President or his agents to withhold funds due to a federating unit or even the National Judicial Council.
The party said: “Rather than poke nose into the internal affairs of Oyo State, Mr Abubakar Malami should be more concerned about Federal Government’s various disregard of judiciary pronouncements and lack of respect for rule of law.
“Nigeria as a federation is governed by constitution not by a decree fiat and it’s not anybody’s fault that the drafters of Nigerian Constitution put the control, legislation and supervision of the local governments under the purview of the State governments through the various State House of Assemblies.
“What the present Attorney-General of the Federation, Malam Abubakar Malami, and his APC cohorts are trying to achieve is purely 2023 political agenda similar to attempt by former Attorney-General, Mr Akin Olujimi, SAN, to stop Federal allocations meant for Lagos State through executive fiat.
“I want to reiterate that nowhere in the 1999 Constitution is the President or his agents given the power to withhold funds due to States or Local Government Councils or even the National Judicial Council by virtue of the provision of Section 162 subsection (9) thereof. In other words, the President has no supervisory power over the state and the local government councils.
“Nigeria as a country is practising federalism, not a unitary system of government, hence the needs for separation of power and avoid ridiculous action that can jeopardize the image of Nigeria within the comity of Nations.
“Furthermore, the Supreme Court judgement delivered by Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais, CJN, on 10th of December 2004 stated clearly that pursuant to section 162 (5) of the Constitution; if the President or any of his agents have any grievances or whatsoever with any tier of government, he should go to court.
“Oyo State PDP as the ruling party is advising APC in Oyo State to look for their saviour elsewhere as Mr Abubakar Malami is not constitutional empowered to assist them in foisting illegality on the good people of Oyo State at the grassroots level.
“Hence, the Caretaker Chairmen across the 33 Local Councils and 35 LCDAs are enjoined to face the herculean task before them and disregard the former illegal chairmen who are merely seeking attention.”
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