Ola Ajayi – Ibadan
Newly inaugurated Local Council chairmen in Oyo State have been warned against being part of what was described as illegality being perpetrated by the Oyo state government.
The warning was given by the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) in an open letter signed by its chairman, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye and the Secretary, Pastor Jesutoye Oluyinka.
In the letter addressed to the Chairmen, bankers to Local Government Councils and Local Council Development Authority (LCDAs), Heads of Local Government administration and staff, ALGON said it decided to issue the warning in order not to be complicit in the illegal actions because of the repercussions. The open letter reads:
“We are compelled to openly issue this letter of caution to the purported Caretaker Chairmen, Bankers to all Oyo state Local Government Councils, LCDAs, Civil Servants in our dear State and all Local Government Staff across our Council Secretariats, to strongly avoid being put under duress by the Oyo State Government to partake in another man’s sin, by not allowing themselves to be used to further and foist what is clearly an illegal and fraudulent administration over our Local Government Councils and LCDAs in Oyo state.
Over the past few months, we had consistently warned the Oyo State Government, and the Governor of Oyo State to respect the rule of law and desist from the path of illegality he was treading and being railroaded onto by politicians who are hellbent on dividing our Local Government Councils and constituencies as their political fiefdoms and their spoils of war.
“It is no longer news that Governor Seyi Makinde has demonstrated no iota of respect for the rule of law and our courts, hence his serial breaches leading to an illegal appointment of an unlawful contraption called Caretaker Chairmen.
“We emphatically restate that there is no law in Oyo State creating a Caretaker Chairman’s office over any Local Government Council and LCDAs, hence the recent purported appointments of Caretakers is a flagrant display of irresponsibility, and mere jokes for public grandstanding with no force of law.
“It therefore follows that any operation, directives, approvals, disbursements, decision or step taken by such usurpers occupying a nonexistent office can only be tantamount to an attempt to defraud the revenue of the Local Councils and LCDAs for which such persons and their collaborators shall be prosecuted.”
“We expected the State Attorney General would have attempted to publicly rebut our emphatic position if it were legally rebuttable, but clearly rather than offer legal advice to guide the state, the learned professor seems to have outsourced his role as legal adviser to politicians who speak ignorantly on air about what they know nothing of”.
“The management, administration and financing of Local Councils and LCDAs according to the constitution and the Supreme court in cases variously cited and now in the public domain, can only be validly approved, authorized, authenticated by documents executed by elected Local Government Chairmen.
“No authorization from any Caretaker Chairman of any Local Government Council or LCDA Caretakers nor their appointors is recognized under the current legal regime in our country.
“Any civil servant, bank or local government staff that honours such illegal approvals, directives or authorization from such persons, therefore, renders himself/herself liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy and fraud.”
“We recognize that the Oyo Governor continues to act illegally hiding behind a cloak of constitutional immunity, while his political collaborators outside government who may be urging you, Council Chairmen to embark on serial illegalities, will not be signatories to any official council document that may incriminate you and form the subject of investigations of this orchestrated fraud on the administration of Councils.
“Let us be clear that the revenue of our Local Government Councils and LCDAs for wages and emoluments are only payable to legally recognized employment positions and staff of Councils.
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“Caretaker Chairmen are not legally recognized under our laws anymore and therefore are not staff of councils, nor are they entitled to collect any wage, emoluments or allowance from our Councils under any guise”.
“It should be strongly noted that under our jurisprudence ignorance of the law has never been an excuse to criminal culpability. A claim of ignorance or self-imposed duress will not avail anyone of our bankers nor Local Government staff and civil servants who act in defiance of established laws to conspire with usurpers not provided for under any law in our land to rob our councils or pass themselves off as chairmen of offices that are both in law, and to your public knowledge not vacant nor conferred by law on any usurping caretaker.
“Any voucher signed by or authorized by Caretakers will be tantamount to attempted fraud.
“As you are aware, the office of Chairmen of Oyo Local Government councils and LCDAs are neither vacant nor available under our constitution for any caretaker to justifiably occupy either in law or fact.
“Therefore any individual who passes himself or herself off as Caretaker Chairman or seeks to issue directives to Local Government/LCDAs staff or civil servants or our bankers will along with such banker or civil servant, be acting fraudulently and in breach of clear legal pronouncements for which such persons and their stooges shall be prosecuted”.
“Make no mistake about it, an armchair pronouncement of a Governor in a constitutional democracy, and a showmanship swearing-in, are unknown to our law as currently constituted. It does not, and cannot by any stretch of political spin or imagination legalize what has been pronounced illegality by the Supreme Court and the High Court of Oyo State.”
“We remind the Accountant General of Oyo State, the Ministry of Local Government and Council officials across Local Government Councils, that our Joint State/Local government accounts are under the legal regime established by law and the Court judgments, only operatable by the elected local government chairmen whose elections have neither been voided by any court nor by any law.”
“We can boldly say it under our constitutional democracy that the illegal statements of a Governor does not become law not being legislation nor court order, hence you are not bound by such reckless statements and actions of the Governor that contradicts the law. We are not under military edicts, but under the Constitution sworn to by the Governor himself to defend and protect.”
“If Governor Makinde continues to toe the path of recalcitrance, let him and his co-travellers continue and face whatever the outcome.
“We trust you will ponder over these truths, seek legal counsel from your personal attorneys to be properly guided, and ensure you are not sucked into the crucible Governor Makinde has heated up in our state,” ALGON said.