Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Councillors from various local governments areas in Ogun State, on Thursday barricaded the entrance to the House of Assembly in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, to protest a resolution of the Assembly suspending all elective officeholders in various councils.
The councillors, who stormed the Assembly complex around 8am, prevented the lawmakers and staff of the Assembly from gaining entrance into the arena.
The legislature had last week passed a resolution suspending and inviting all the local government officials in the state over allegation of financial misappropriation levelled against them.
The executive arm of the government subsequently ordered the freezing of the accounts of the local governments pending the conclusion of the investigation by the House of Assembly.
But the councillors armed with placards with various inscriptions such as “The lawmakers are the lawbreakers”, “Respect Supreme Court on local government tenure” and “OGHA led by Rt. Hon Suraj Adekunbi, don’t rubbish Dapo Abiodun’s administration through your selfishness” amongst others, invaded the House to demand lifting of the suspension.
The Speaker of the House, Suraj Isola Adekunbi, incidentally ran into the protesters but managed to gain entrance into the Assembly Complex.
The protesters, however, charged at his convoy and rained angry words on him for presiding over their suspension.
Adekunbi, who later alighted from his vehicle, told the protesting councillors to find a better way to address their agitations, saying calling him names would not solve any problem.
Addressing Adekunbi on behalf of the protesters, Azeez Oloyede from Abeokuta South East Local Council Development Area, said they were surprised at the position of the Assembly at a time when the issue of local government autonomy was being addressed.
On the allegation of financial misappropriation, Azeez told the Speaker that they had not received any correspondence accusing them of alleged maladministration of the local government before the decision was taken.
He said they disregarded the rumour, since no letter was addressed to them, only for them to be attacked by career officers at the local government governments when they tried to resume in their offices.
“We heard the rumour that we were suspended, why is it that when the issue of local government autonomy is being addressed is when you’re suspending us from office?
“Till this moment, there is no allegation against us and before we can be suspended, was there any allegation against us? Not at all! We don’t even believe that, because up till now, we have not received any letter to that effect and when we got to our various offices, we were harassed by local government workers and career officers.
“As far as we are concerned, there’s nothing like suspension. What is our offence that warrants this kind of rumour that we, the legislators and chairmen, were suspended?” Azeez submitted.
The speaker, who later spoke with journalists said he was surprised to see the protesters at the Assembly complex.
Adekunbi stated that the Assembly acted within its own power, urging the councillors to wait for communication from the executive arm of the government.
He insisted that the Assembly had received a lot of petitions against the administration of local governments in the state and that he had brought same unofficially to the notice of the chairmen.