By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, yesterday, described as worrisome, statements credited to some governors-elect to the effect that the accounts of the states where they won elections should be frozen until they are sworn into office, saying such actions were illegal and anti-democratic.
The AGF through a press statement he issued in Abuja, maintained that such pronouncements by the newly elected officials were not only contrary to the letters and spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, but also capable of impacting negatively on the smooth running of government business in the affected states.
Stressing that the Federal Government view such proclamations as highly vexatious, the AGF enjoined the governors-elect to exercise restraint and avoid illegal actions capable of heating up the polity unnecessarily.
According to a statement which was signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Ambrose Momoh, “we wish to state that such actions are clearly illegal and capable of engendering the breakdown of law and order and political instability in the affected states, a situation that would no doubt impact negatively on governance and smooth conduct of government business.”
“We, therefore, condemn such actions and respectfully advise all concerned to exercise restraint and allow the tenure of incumbent office holders to come to an end in accordance with the dictates of the Constitution.
“This is more so as the incumbent officials (Governors) are the only persons constitutionally recognised to govern and/or administer their respective states. It should be appreciated that the mandate given to governors-elect at the last general elections will not take effect until their inauguration on 29th May 2011.
“Until the inauguration, no person or authority can lawfully impede the administration of incumbent state governors and this should be respected by all and sundry in order to protect our democracy.”
It would be recalled that last week, Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Nze Elvis Agukwe addressed a press conference in Owerri intimating the people that the Governor-elect of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha, had written to banks placing embargo on the state government account until he is sworn in
He said Governor Ikedi Ohakim was not afraid of any probe on his activities during his tenure and that Okorocha’s action was illegal and unconstitutional, adding that there is nothing like the office of the governor-elect and the Nigerian constitution does not recognise two governors at a time.
“The action of Chief Okorocha is already grinding government machinery to a halt and civil servants in the state are becoming restive because banks, evidently acting under the instruction of Okorocha, have refused to release cheques for their April salaries,” Agukwe said.