X-raying S’Court verdict on Oyo LGs

Supreme Court

In this piece, STEPHEN GBADAMOSI, looks into the aftermath of the Supreme Court judgement nullifying the dissolution of elected council chairmen in Oyo state and the scheduled council elections in the state.

It is a common saying in the legal palace as enunciated by the Supreme Court that there must be an end to litigation. It is simply because the apex court considers itself as the final arbiter in a legal dispute.

But the furore being generated over the Friday judgment of the Supreme Court in which it nullified the dissolution of the local government council chairmen and councilors in Oyo State by Governor Seyi Makinde show the warring parties may soon return to the court.

The local government’s helmsmen were elected under the immediate past Governor Abiola Ajimobi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but were dissolved by Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) upon assumption of office.

The tone for the new legal battle is already being set by leaders of the two parties over the scheduled local government elections in the state.

A former governor and chieftain of APC in the state, Adebayo Alao-Akala, has called on the governor to shift the local government elections scheduled to hold in about two weeks to allow for APC candidates participation.

He has only reechoed the voice of the caretaker committee chairman of the APC in the state, Chief Akin Oke, who urged the commission to, with immediate effect, postpone the council elections.

Oke, who spoke while addressing journalists on Saturday, noted that the need to postpone the election was necessary in order to accommodate the APC in the election.

The press conference was organised by the sacked local government chairmen.

“We could not be part of the preparation for that election at the initial stage, because we felt the dissolution of democratically-elected chairmen and councilors was illegal.

“Now that we have been vindicated, it is, thus, right for the government to give a level playing field, in order for us to test our popularity. We are not afraid of the local government elections; it is high time OYSIEC postponed the election to accommodate us.”

However, the Executive Chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Mr Dotun Oyelade, who hails from Ogbomoso, same town as Alao-Akala, and who was Special Adviser on Public Communications to the former governor, has berated him for calling for postponement of the election, recalling that the former governor also sacked elected council chiefs elected under his predecessor, Chief Rashidi Ladoja.

Oyelade added that Alao-Akala did not only sack the elected local government helmsmen but, also hurriedly conducted an election and swore in the winners from his party 48 hours after.

In a statement titled; “LG Polls: Correcting Former Governor Akala,” and made available to journalists in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Saturday, Oyelade said his former boss lacked the moral ground to pontificate over the Supreme Court judgment.

“It made quite an interesting reading the statement credited to former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala regarding the Supreme Court judgment which ordered the Oyo State government to pay the accumulated arrears and salaries of the sacked local government chairmen installed via a fluke and controversial election at the tail of the immediate-past administration in the state.

“In a case instituted by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), the Supreme Court, in upholding an earlier Appeal Court judgment, stated that the Seyi Makinde-led administration erred in sacking the council bosses whose tenure, in any case, would have ended by now, had they been allowed to continue in office.

“Now, former Governor Alao-Akala, in an interview with the media, has told Governor Makinde not to throw up what he called another round of legal gymnastics (his words) by going ahead to conduct local government election which, according to the former governor, should be postponed to avert the sin of one-sidedness.

“But this exactly was what Alao-Akala did in 2009 when he defied all entreaties, including litigations and went ahead to conduct a local government elections in which only his political party participated.

“Not only that, he quickly swore in all the chairmen early Monday morning, barely 48 hours after the one-sided poll.

“In the particular case at hand, Governor Alao-Akala seems not to take cognizance of the fact that the Supreme Court judgment did not reinstate the sacked local government chairmen, neither did it say the local government election scheduled by the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) to hold on May 22, should no longer hold.

“In fact, the judgment is a clear indication that the election can hold as scheduled; and former Governor Alao-Akala shouldn’t blame Governor Makinde for the hitherto recalcitrant attitude of his political party, the APC, to shun participation in the coming poll, based on the assumption that the Supreme Court would reinstate the sacked chairmen.

“The former governor must also understand that OYSIEC cannot be accused of any wrongdoing, having, in the last four months, reached out extensively to all political parties and stakeholders, including the APC, on the need to participate fully in the electoral process and prepare adequately for the coming election,” he said.

Speaking about the “legal gymnastics” mentioned by former Governor Alao-Akala, Oyelade said, “Now, to yet another moral question; it may be necessary to remind former Governor Alao-Akala, who ruled the state from 2007 to 2011, that he also, on assumption of office, sacked the local government chairmen elected under the administration of his predecessor, Senator Ladoja, even despite the fact that he belonged to the same party with Senator Ladoja and the elected chairmen at the time.

“So, former Governor Alao-Akala certainly has no moral right to now pontificate on the merits, demerits or appropriateness of Governor Makinde’s action in also sacking local government chairmen who were elected in the most controversial circumstances.”

But disagreeing, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG) under Ladoja, Chief Sharafadeen Alli, berated governor Makinde over the manner he handled the local government chiefs’ dissolution matter.

Alli said the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment was a confirmation of the governor’s profligate spending and lack of administrative acumen, adding that while the government was using tax payers’ money to pay his appointed local government caretaker committee chairmen and members, the Supreme Court had also ordered him to use the tax payers’ money to pay the salaries and other emoluments of the sacked chairmen and councilors in the councils.

This development, according to him, is a duplication of salaries “and a wastage of “scare resources and commonwealth.”

The former chairman of Odu’a Investment Group stated this in a statement on Sunday, urging the governor to listen to “the counsel of experienced administrators in the state and stop wastage and duplicitous spending which is becoming his trait.”

He congratulated members of the APC in the state, democracy, grassroots politicians and the entire populace “for setting the record straight on relationship between the executive arm of the state government and elected local government councils.”

He also called on the OSIEC to reschedule the local government elections so as to accommodate candidates of the APC,

ALGON chairman, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye, described the action of the state governor to dissolve the elected council officials as executive rascality.

He said the former council bosses dedicated the victory to the immediate-past governor of the state, the late Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

“It is a display of executive rascality. We dedicate this victory to our boss, the late Abiola Ajimobi, who urged us not to fight them, but to follow the rule of the law.

“It is all about the rule of law. It is about democracy to thrive in the grassroots. Makinde does not have any respect for the rule of law. Ajimobi was the driving force that advised that we should not cause problems in the state, but to follow the rule of law by going to court.

“We want to thank former Governor Ajimobi. We thank all our leaders; we thank the gentlemen of the press,” he said.

However, as of today there are no indications that the governor would shift his ground by postponing the council elections.

This suggests that parties in the just concluded legal dispute may soon return to the court to test their cases again. What this shows is that the state may soon be thrown into another round of legal crisis and waste of tax payers money unless the elections are postponed.

While the two parties have remained adamant, the governor may see this as an opportunity to totally shut the APC out of the elections as the party did not participate in the nomination processes and therefore has no candidates in the elections as things stand today.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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