Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Oyo State House of Assembly on Thursday directed the 68 sacked council chairmen in the state to return all government property in their custody to their respective councils.
The directive was given at a plenary presided over by the Speaker, Adebo Ogundoyin. The 68 sacked council chairmen, comprised 33 for Local Government Areas and 35 for Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), who were all elected on Saturday May 12, 2018, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that was the ruling party then.
The Majority Leader of the House, Sanjo Adedoyin, representing Ogbomoso South, had brought a matter of urgent public importance before the parliament, which was ruled on by the legislature being dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The lawmakers agreed that the call became necessary with a view to ensuring accountability and continuity of governance in all the LGAs and LCDAs in the state, enjoining the Commissioner of Police in the state and other security agencies to intervene towards recovering the government property allegedly taken away by the sacked council bosses, under the aegis of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON).
The directive followed a ruling of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division, that on Wednesday set aside the May 6, 2019, judgment of an Oyo State High Court that restrained the governor of the state and the House of Assembly from suspending or removing elected local government chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors, and that the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) could not conduct another election into the positions until the expiration of the three-year tenure of the then incumbents.
The unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal, read by Justice Simon Haruna Tsammani, supported by Justices Olujinmi Bada and Afolashade Ayodeji, set aside the ruling of the lower court on the grounds that it was speculative and premature at the time it was obtained because the incumbent administration had not come to power then.
The Oyo State House of Assembly, however, directed all the caretaker chairmen that took over the reins of government in December 2019 to take proper inventory of all missing property in their councils and forward the details to the House.
The Speaker, Ogundoyin, stated when he ruled on the notion that ‘if it was on record that those properties were acquired through auction or other legal means, then the Ninth Oyo State House of Assembly will not intervene and will not question such action. However, the property was not rightfully acquired by the said chairmen. They can’t continue to keep government property in their possession. That could amount to theft of government property.’
But two lawmakers elected into the parliament on the platform of APC, Abidoye Bamigboye, representing Oriire, and Isiaka Tunde, representing Oyo East/Oyo West, argued vehemently against ruling on the motion on the grounds that the sacked chairmen made it known publicly that they would challenge the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal in the Supreme Court.
The counter comments by the APC lawmakers could not sail through as the Deputy Speaker, Mohammed Fadeyi; Francis Adetunji (Oluyole), Olusola Owolabi (Ib North East II); and Adeola Bamidele (Iseyin/Itesiwaju) rose against the comment of the opposition party and prevailed on the House to rule on the motion.