ABUJA â€” AN end to the lingering face-off between the Federal Government and the Lagos State government over the 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state may not be in sight as the Federal Government came hard on the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, when it described the action of the Governor on the creation of the LCDAs as not only mischievous but also as an attempt to distract the central government from implementing its Seven-Point agenda.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakka, at the end of yesterdayâ€™s Federal Executive Council meeting said â€œour position is to make the law clear; discuss with Lagos state, the law is very clear, there is no elementary lawyer to tell you that those LCDAs parading as LGs are not LGs. They are trying to whip up sentiment.
What we are trying to do is to protect the integrity of the constitution so that no person should just unilaterally assume authority.â€
The Attorney-General who addressed newsmen alongside the Minister of State for the Interior, Mr. Demola Seriki, said the Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola, a lawyer, obviously knows the position of the law on the matter but was only trying to short-circuit the Constitution.
According to Seriki, â€œthis government is not in opposition to the creation of additional local governments. I, as a Lagosian and a minister from Lagos state am not opposed to such but we cannot, in the name of that illegitimacy or illegality, allow the 37 additional LCDAs because they are not in the constitution but I will refer this to the AGF to give proper interpretation as to the position of the law regarding LDCAs.
We are not in for that, we cannot continue to be mischievous about it and engaging all sorts of altercations in resolving issues between the Federal Government and statesâ€.
Asked if he had studied the situation as directed by Mr. President, the AGF declared that â€œI have nothing to study. The law is there. He directed me and I have replied him. What do you mean by studying the matter? The judgment is there, the judgment of the Supreme Court is thorough. What do I have to study?
â€œLet me give you a graphic clarification of the issue of Lagos state. Let me be very clear that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Yarâ€™Adua supports development, but we have to follow the law in doing things.
â€œLocal government has two aspect of legislative imperative. The process starts from the state and terminates at the State House of Assembly to make it complete.â€
According to him, â€œthe danger which the president is trying to avoid is that the power to amend the constitution lies in the National Assembly. Is the Lagos government trying to say this two-way traffic now, when applied, would work? As the chief law officer it is not possible.
I will tell the FG that once the constitution amendment is passed by the National Assembly, it has to go to all the state assemblies to get the two-third. Here is a simple requirement that was not followedâ€.
He continued: â€œthis morning, you can see all the lawyers that came on television were enormous that no local government can have life except created by the state, but the existence of LG can only come when the National Assembly concurs. The schedule is amended and included in the constitutionâ€.
He stated that â€œonly Lagos state says they cannot because they have powerful machinery. But you canâ€™t twist the law. The law is so clear, it is so elementary and the governor knows it and that is the law and it canâ€™t be changed that is the position on the issue of Lagos state.
There is nothing like strong arm tactics the way people take things wrongly. A section of the constitution says all authorities and all persons and all court have a right, a duty to enforce orders of the court and the highest authority in this country is the president.
But that is not the issue; government is open to dialogue to ensure this matter gets resolvedâ€.