The Attorney General of the Federation(AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has expressed his dismay over the continued non-adherence by some state governors and state Houses of Assembly to the provisions of section 7(I) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) as it relates to the existence, administration and control of local government councils in Nigeria.
Malami, in a letter dated January 14, 2020 and addressed to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, said a House of Assembly of a state has no power to make any law conferring a state governor with the power to truncate democratically elected local government councils
The AGF who cited some judgements, said in view of the final decision of the Supreme Court which he claimed is binding on the 36 states of the federation, the dissolution of elected local government councils is unconstitutional, null and void, adding that any system of local government run by caretaker committees are illegal and unconstitutional.
Malami requested that Makinde, state governors and Speakers of State Houses of Assembly, who are breaching the provisions of section 7(I) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and acting in disobedience of the Supreme Court judgement to retrace their steps by ensuring compliance in the overall interest of rule of law and democracy.
“The need to immediately disband all caretaker committee and restore democratically elected representatives to man the local governments has, therefore, become obligatory,” the AGF added.
Meanwhile, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Oyo State chapter has called on the state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde to cooperate with them as they plan to resume immediately “as Democratically Elected Local Government Councils chairmen in obedience to the judgement of the Supreme Court and other Courts.”
A statement by the ALGON chairman in the state, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye, said the chairmen are fully aware of Malami’s letter calling the attention of Oyo State Government to its “illegal and unconstititional act of dissolving democratically elected local government administration in the state.”
“The AGF subsequently called for restoration of the democratically elected third tier government in the state that Gov. Seyi Makinde had illegally replaced with an unconstitutional contraption called “caretaker committee” which is unelected and therefore unknown to law and in flagrant disregard of Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The AGF cited and relied on several subsisting court judgements including Supreme Court which is highest court in the country and which judgement is Law.
“This has been our own position too in ALGON Oyo State that no governor or House of Assembly has the right to embark on a futile unconstitutional journey to tramp on the law in order to achieve a predetermined illegal act like what Gov. Makinde had done.
Democracy survives on the rule of law and strict adherence to democratic tenets. Democracy is sustained by rule of law and not rule or caprice of men. As the erudite late Lord Justice Denning posited: “Be ye never so high, the law is above you”
‘In view of the latest positive development that definitely complement our resolute struggle to defend democracy and grassroots governance, we want to assure the governor and the good people of Oyo State that we as elected chairmen of local government and local council development areas are always ready to work with the state government to advance our dear state to greater height as soon as we resume duty .
“His Excellency, Gov. Makinde has nothing to fear since we have no personal grudge against him or any official of his government beyond our principled stand that the constitution, rule of law and Supreme Court judgement which has a national jurisdiction must be obeyed at all times.
“We once again appreciate all our members who are steadfast to defend our democratically given mandate and grassroots democracy. Now that we are resuming, we appeal to our members including councilors to redouble their efforts in giving their utmost best immediately we resume,” ALGON said.