An Oyo State High Court on Monday restrained the Governor and the House of Assembly from suspending or removing elected local government chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors in the state.
It also ruled that the state electoral commission can not conduct another election into the positions until the expiration of the three-year tenure of the incumbents who were elected on May 12 last year.
The court, presided over by Justice A. Aderemi, also restrained the state government from freezing or withholding the bank accounts of the councils while their tenure lasts.
The ruling deflates speculations that the incoming governor of the state, Seyi Makinde, who was elected on a different party from the current council chairmen, may remove them and constitute caretaker leaderships composed of his own party men.
Even though Makinde has not declared such an intention, it is thought that he may rely on the Oyo State Local Government Law 2001 (as amended) which empowere the governor to dissolve elected local government administrations and appoint caretaker teams.
According to the claimants, their going to court was necessitated by an alleged threat by outgoing governor Abiola Ajimobi, to dissolve the local government leaders relying on the Oyo State Local Government Law 2001 (as amended). They alleged that shortly after the 2019 elections, the governor moved to remove them and appoint caretaker chairmen.
Incidentally, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) lost the governorship and the House of Assembly to Makinde’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Section 11 of the Local Government Law of Oyo State, 2001(as amended) empowers the Governor of Oyo State to appoint a 7-member transition committee to run the affairs of the council for a period to be determined by the Oyo State House of Assembly.
Section 21 of the same law also empowers the Oyo State House of Assembly to remove a democratically elected chairman and vice chairman whose tenure is yet to expire by a resolution.
But giving judgment in a suit filed by 11 chairmen and councilors led by Bashorun Bosun Ajuwon, Justice Aderemi granted all the 10 prayers of the claimants.
The judge ruled that the Oyo State Local Government Law was in conflict with Section 7(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) and thus unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void.
He declared that the Oyo State law breached Section 7(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) and is thus unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Justice Aderemi also affirmed the three-year tenure of the elected officials and restrained the governor and the House of Assembly from removing or suspending them of freezing or withholding their accounts.
In granting the reliefs, the judge relied on the doctrine of stare decisis relied on the Supreme Court case of Governor, Ekiti State v. Olubunmi  All FWLR (Pt. 873), ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF PLATEAU STATE & ORS V. HON. CHIEF ANTHONY GOYOL & ORS (2007) LPELR-12875 (CA) and other cases.