By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, applauded the Supreme Court’s judgement which held that the sack of elected local government chairmen and councillors by state governments and appointment of caretaker administrators was illegal.
Dogara said the judgement had added credence to the position that state governors lacked the constitutional right to sack duly elected local government officials, adding that it justified the clamour for local government areas to be given both financial and administrative autonomy to ensure rapid development of the third tier of government.
The Supreme Court judgment delivered by a five-man panel, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, in the case of the appeal against the dissolution of the 16 local government executives in Ekiti State, during Kayode Fayemi’s tenure, described the practice as “executive recklessness,” which must not be allowed to persist.
A statement signed by Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, in Abuja, quoted the speaker as saying that governors had a constitutional responsibility to act according to the dictates of the judgement, since Nigeria was a nation of laws and not of men.
“The National Assembly will, undoubtedly, intervene to solve this problem. Already, clauses granting financial autonomy to both local councils and State Houses of Assembly are being considered by the National Assembly in the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“The proposals include denying federal allocation to local governments that do not have democratically elected council officials.
‘’In the interim, the Federal Ministry of Finance should be guided by the Supreme Court decision which makes it illegal to release Federation Account funds to an unelected Council.”
It will be recalled that Dogara in an interview recently, described the state-local government Joint Account as “evil” and urged state legislators to move against governors who refused to conduct council polls and hijack their funds.