High Court Refrains Oyo Governor, Lawmakers From Sacking, Suspending Elected Council Chairmen

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Ladoja

An Oyo State High Court Monday restrained the Governor and the House of Assembly from suspending or removing elected local government chairmen, vice chairmen and councilors.

It also ruled that the state electoral commission cannot conduct another election into the positions until the expiration of the three-year tenure of the incumbents.

The chairmen and others were elected on May 12 last year.

The court, presided over by Justice A. Aderemi, also restrained the state government from freezing or withholding the bank accounts of the councils while their tenure lasts.

Justice Aderemi gave the judgment in a suit filed by 11 chairmen and councilors led by Bashorun Bosun Ajuwon. They were the claimants in the case. The suit challenged the constitutionality of the Oyo State Local Government Law 2001 (as amended) which empowers the governor to remove the chairmen and the councilors.

According to the claimants, the outgoing governor Abiola Ajimobi, held a meeting with the chairmen, other elected members and top leaders of the party shortly after the 2019 elections. At the meeting, they recalled that the governor announced that he would dissolve the elected local government leaders as empowered by the Oyo State Local Government Law 2001 (as amended) and appoint t caretaker teams with a view to restructuring the party in the state. The governing party, All Progressives Congress (APC) lost the governorship and House of Assembly elections.

Section 11 of the Local Government Law of Oyo State, 2001(as amended) empowers the Governor of Oyo State to appoint a 7-member transition committee to run the affairs of the council for a period to be determined by the Oyo State House of Assembly.

Section 21 of the same law also empowers the Oyo State House of Assembly to remove a democratically elected chairman and vice chairman whose tenure is yet to expire by a resolution.

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But the elected chairmen and councilors challenged the constitutionality of the law.

The claimants sought 10 prayers and had all of them granted.

The court held that the Oyo State Local Government Law was  in conflict with Section 7(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) and thus unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void.

It declared that the Oyo State law breached Section 7(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) and is thus unconstitutional, ultra vires, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

Justice Aderemi also affirmed the three-year tenure of the elected officials and restrained the governor and the House of Assembly from removing or suspending them of freezing or withholding their accounts.

In granting the reliefs, the judge relied on the doctrine of stare decisis relied on the Supreme Court case of Governor, Ekiti State v. Olubunmi [2017] All FWLR (Pt. 873), ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF PLATEAU STATE & ORS V. HON. CHIEF ANTHONY GOYOL & ORS (2007) LPELR-12875 (CA) and other cases

Source: https://thenationonlineng.net/court-to-oyo-governor-house-of-assembly-you-cant-sack-suspend-elected-council-chairmen/

Fatima Hassan

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