By Dayo Johnson
GOVERNOR Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State weekend justified the constitution of the caretakerâ€™s chairmen for the 18 councils after the Court declared the election of erstwhile chairmen illegal.
Justice Nelson Adeyanju in his judgment in Akure held the purported December 15, 2007 council polls was conducted contrary to Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2006 which stipulated 150 days of notification to all political parties concerned.
Dr Mimiko said the caretaker chairmen was constituted to prevent a vacuum in the administration of this important tier of government.
He pointed out that his government took the action after having waited for the full exercise of the rights of the parties at the courts according to its avowed deference to the rule of law and respect for the rights of all.
â€œWe commend all parties involved, particularly our teeming citizens, party members and supporters and indeed the opposition party for their patience during the long wait for justice to take its course.
â€œWe restate that in this matter, there is no victor and no vanquished, for it is democracy in action. We ask all to remain law abiding and give all the necessary support to the newly appointed Chairmen of Caretaker Committees.â€
Meanwhile, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) while reacting to the resolution of the House of Assembly directing the Federal Government to withhold funds due to the Local Government in the state said â€œit will certainly not find comfort with the provisions of the Constitutionâ€.
Jegede said the funds due to the Local Governments â€œare constitutional and dedicated funds and cannot be interfered with by any person or authority and certainly not by a resolution of a House of Assembly.â€
The Ondo State House of Assembly had asked the governor to rescind the decision to constitute the Caretaker Chairmen failure of which it called on the Federal Government to withold funds to the councils in the state.
Jegede cited the case of the Attorney-General, Lagos Vs the Attorney General of the Federation as contained in the recent decision of the Supreme Court which he noted has clearly settled the matter.
â€œThe Federal Government cannot withhold constitutional and dedicated funds due to the third-tier of Government, even at the instigation of any institution of Government.
â€œThe President of Nigeria has no power vested in him (by executive or administrative action) to suspend or withhold for any period whatsoever the statutory allocation due or payable to Lagos State Government pursuant to the provision of section 165(5) of 1999 Constitutionâ€ .
â€œOur attention has not been drawn to any other provision of the Constitution which empowers the President to exercise the power of withholding or suspending any payment of allocation from the Federation Account of Local Government Councils, or to State Government on behalf of the Local Government Council as provided by Section 162 subsections (3) and (5) of the constitution.â€
â€œFrom the foregoing according to Jegede to invite, or suggest with-holding of Funds due to the Local Government is simply put a brutal violation of sections 162 (i) to (10) of 1999 Constitution.
â€œThe Attorney-General of the Federation and indeed Mr. President, fully aware of the provisions of the Constitution and pronouncements of the Supreme Court will ignore such resolution.â€