The Chairman and members of the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) have sued Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde over the dissolution of the Commission. Joined in the multiple suits filed at the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan are the state Attorney General, the Oyo State House of Assembly and the state Head of Service.
In seven seperate suits individually filed by the Chairman and members of the OYSIEC, the claimants are challenging the dissolution and termination of their tenure of office.
In the originating summons filed by the claimants, they are seeking 10 main reliefs including, among others:
A declaration that the purported dissolution of the OYSIEC and termination of the appointment of the claimants by the Governor is illegal null and void; declaration that the resolution of the Oyo state house of assembly purporting to ratify such dissolution of the commission is illegal, null and void; a declaration that the Oyo state government letter terminating their appointment as chairman and members of OYSIEC and dissolving the commission, dated 1st July 2019 and issued by the Head of service is illegal, unconstitutional and void; an order setting aside the said letter of dissolution terminating their appointment as Chairman and members of OYSIEC; an order of reinstatement of the claimants back on OYSIEC board and restoring all entitlements and rights; injunction restraining the Oyo state government and its agencies from reconstituting or appointing any persons on the commission until the expiration of the claimants constitutional five-year tenure.
The claimants have also filed before the court an application seeking interlocutory injunction against the Oyo State Governor, Oyo State House of Assembly, and others, to restrain them and their agents or servants from nominating, appointing, screening any person or reconstituting the commission (OYSIEC ) until the determination of their case.
Governor Seyi Makinde had by a letter of 1st July 2019 issued by the Head of Service dissolved the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission, admitting their tenure had not expired, but offering the members money to pay them off for their unexpired tenure.
The claimants’ counsel in a letter accompanying the service of the court processes filed, and addressed to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, which was copied to other defendants and the National Industrial Court, warned the government not to take any step to overreach or disregard the jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court but to respect the rule of law by ensuring nothing is done to appoint anyone into the OYSIEC while the cases are pending.
This, the counsel said, is in line with the Supreme Court decision in Ojukwu v. Government of Lagos State which held decisively that where a party is served with a notice of a suit before a court, especially when accompanied with a motion for injunction seeking to restrain the performance of any act or enjoining the doing of certain activities, the hands of the said party is effectively tied from proceeding with the threatened action, even if no preliminary injunction has been issued.
A flurry of cases and applications have recently been filed in the state against Governor Makinde’s administration and officials by the chairmen of local government councils in the state challenging the dissolution of local government councils.