The outgoing Chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Oyo State chapter, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye has said the decision to engage Governor Seyi Makinde in legal battle over the sack of elected local government chairmen and councilors was to fight for rule of law and ensure that democracy thrive at the grassroots level.
Makinde sacked the council executives by fiat within hours of his swearing-in as governor on May 29, 2019. But the Supreme Court nullified his action on Friday, describing it as executive recklessness.
It directed the governor to pay the sacked officials their total salaries and entitlements for the remaining two years of their tenure which they were deprived, and additional 10 months salaries as a special penalty for his action. The apex court also gave the governor till August 7 to implement the judgement.
The sacked council members were elected in May 2018 for a three-year tenure which was supposed to lapse in May 2021 but were denied two years in office.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Abass-Aleshinloye said the decision to pursue the case all the way to Supreme Court is not about sitting in the office for the chairmen, but about laying precedents for democracy at the grassroots level.
He said: “The governor’s illegal dissolution of local government runs foul of section 7 of the 1999 constitution and it undermined the precedent judgements of the Supreme Court on similar matter in other states which stated unambiguously that no one including a state governor and state House of Assembly has the power to dissolve elected local government council.So, it became a puzzle to all discerning Nigerians how Governor Makinde suddenly became so powerful and had the confidence that the Supreme Court would kowtow to his illegal power of life and death of local government and the court would reverse its remarkable precedent judgements.
“Governor Makinde doesn’t have respect for rule lf law and democracy. But now that this battle has come to an end in the court room, we have put the dark part behind us as we look forward to being paid fully all our salaries and allowances till March 2022 as directed by the highest court in the land.”
Abass-Aleshinloye, who dedicated the Supreme Court victory to the memory of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi, said they will decide at a later date whether to participate in the forthcoming local government election in Oyo State.
Speaking, the Caretaker Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, Chief Akin Oke commended the chairmen for their doggedness and steadfastness.
“We fought the battle with wisdom,common sense and intellectually. We told them, don’t fight with them but let us engage them legally. The only regret is that our leader, Governor Abiola Ajimobi is no longer here to witness this victory,” Oke said.
He said the party will meet with the chairmen and the legal team to determine the next line of action on the local government election and other issues.
Those at the press conference include Federal Commissioner, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Bimbo Kolade; former Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Survey, Hon. Isaac Omodewu; National Officer of APC, Afeez Bolaji Repete; former Special Adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi on Communications and Strategy, Bolaji Tunji among others.