The Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in Oyo State has asked bankers and finance heads of the local government councils not to approve funds for the newly inaugurated caretaker chairmen in the state.
Citing sections of the constitution and Supreme Court rulings recognising only elected local government chairmen, ALGON maintained that any approval or disbursement to the newly sworn-in chairmen is illegal and tantamount to an attempt to defraud the revenue of local governments.
In a letter signed by its Chairman, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye and Secretary, Mr Jesutoye Oluyinka, ALGON warned that any banker or civil servant who signs such disbursement of LG funds incriminates and renders himself/herself liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy and fraud.
Decrying what it called serial breaches of the rule of law by the state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, ALGON described the recent appointment of caretakers for the 33 local government councils and 35 local council development areas as a flagrant display of irresponsibility and mere jokes for public grandstanding with no force of law.
Making reference to the 1999 constitution (as amended), the NFIU guidelines and Joint State/Local Government Accounts as being backed by law, ALGON argued that any voucher signed by or authorised by Caretaker Chairmen, who were not constitutionally recognised, will amount to attempted fraud.
Maintaining that its members’ election as local government Chairmen subsisted since it had not been voided by any court, the association maintained that it remained signatories to the finance and general purpose committees of the councils over council funds, adding that it remained the confirming signatories for payments out of local government accounts and held that its members being signatories cannot be changed without recourse to law.
The letter read in parts: “We are compelled to openly issue this letter of caution to the purported Caretaker Chairmen, Bankers to all Oyo State Local Government Councils, LCDAs, civil servants in our dear state and all Local Government staff across our Council Secretariats, to strongly avoid being put under duress by the Oyo State government to partake in another man’s sin, by not allowing themselves to be used to further and foist what is clearly an illegal and fraudulent administration over our Local Government Councils and LCDAs in Oyo state.
“We emphatically restate that there is no law in Oyo State creating a Caretaker Chairman’s office over any Local Government Council and LCDAs, hence the recent purported appointments of Caretakers is a flagrant display of irresponsibility, and mere jokes for public grandstanding with no force of law.
“We recognise that the governor continues to act illegally hiding behind a cloak of constitutional immunity, while his political collaborators outside government who may be urging you all to embark on serial illegalities, will not be signatories to any official council document that may incriminate you and form the subject of investigations of this orchestrated fraud on the administration of Councils.
“Let us be clear that the revenue of our Local Government Councils and LCDAs for wages and emoluments are only payable to legally recognised employment positions and staff of Councils. Caretaker Chairmen are not legally recognised under our laws anymore and therefore are not staff of councils, nor are they entitled to collect any wage, emoluments or allowance from our Councils under any guise. It should be strongly noted that under our jurisprudence, ignorance of the law has never been an excuse to criminal culpability.
“We remind the Accountant General of Oyo State, the Ministry of Local Government and Council officials across Local Government Councils, that our Joint State/Local government accounts are under the legal regime established by law and the Court judgments, only operatable by the elected local government chairmen whose elections have neither been voided by any court nor by any law.
“You may wish to refer to the NFIU Guidelines on this. Similarly, we remain approving signatories with the Finance and General Purpose Committees of our Councils over Council funds due to each Council. We equally remain on record with our bankers the confirming signatories for payments out of local government accounts which cannot be changed without recourse to law. It was our valid return as elected Chairmen after contested elections that effectively qualified us in this role.
“We can boldly say it under our constitutional democracy that the illegal statements of a governor do not become law not being legislation nor court order, hence you are not bound by such reckless statements and actions of the governor that contradicts the law. We are not under military edicts, but under the Constitution sworn to by the governor himself to defend and protect.
“Therefore, any document executed, or directed to be executed by the usurping Caretakers shall be illegal and a calculated fraud against the council
“Similarly no bank, HLA/DAG/DFA can legally honour the signature of any Caretaker chairman on any confirmations nor disregard our approving signatories as elected chairmen otherwise such civil servant, staff, account officers, bank managers and their collaborators shall be liable for fraud on the revenue of state and criminal breach of trust.”
Meanwhile, the state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has charged all the newly sworn-in 68 local government chairmen across the state to immediately get down to the business of governing their various councils.
Makinde, represented by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mrs Funmilayo Orisadeyi, during a maiden meeting with the council bosses at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Ibadan, at the weekend.
Noting the enormity of the task before the council bosses, the governor urged them to key into the four cardinal points of his administration: health, education, security and agriculture.
“It gladdens my heart to have you around and to congratulate you on your appointments and at the same time welcome you on board as partners in the progress of our Oyo State.
“You will notice that, right from the outset of the inauguration of His Excellency, Engr.Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo State, he has started work in earnest, hence the tag ‘Ise Ya’.
“In the same vein, I am imploring you to see yourself as ‘Ise Ya’ person. Be ready to work. Looking around, you will notice that a lot needs to be done in order to cover the lost glory which I am quite sure you are aware of,” the governor said.