There is a development today in a Federal High court in far away Abuja which will affect citizens of Oyo state either directly or otherwise.
A Federal High court of the Federal capital territory, presided over by the Hon. Justice A.O Ebong granted an order of garnishee in favour of the Local Government Chairmen elected during the days of late Governor Ajimobi and against the Governor of Oyo state, Seyi Makinde and others.
Specifically, the court ordered the freezing of the Accounts of Oyo state in 10 different Banks.
The reasonable question that anymore would like to ask is, how did we get to this point and what are the consequences of the court order on the Government of Oyo state and by extension, citizens of Oyo state?
I will take the former before the latter.
How did we get to this point?
We are where we are today because someone found himself in the exalted position of the Governor of the state and forgot the fact that, though, the powers of a Governor is enormous but it is not infinite.
Governor Makinde predecessor in office amended the Oyo state Local Government Laws and based on the amendments, he conducted Local Government Elections into both Local Governments and the LCDAs freshly created through the amended Law.
By the time Makinde resumed office in May, 2019, the acts of the conduct of Local Government Election and assumption of office of elected Chairmen were validly concluded.
Unfortunately, in the afternoon of May 29, 2019, the Chief of staffs to Governor Makinde announced the dissolution of Local Governments without a valid or lawful reason.
According to Makinde, the Chairmen ” were elected in violation of the Law because, election were conducted in the LCDAs”.
Up till today, I kept wondering whether Makinde took such mundane decision on his own or whether he was deceived by some myopic persons.
Local Governments in Nigeria are a creation of section 7 of the 1999 Constitution.
That section of our Constitution somewhat places the Local Governments under the states through the House of Assembly.
However, immediately a Law was passed for the conduct of a Local Government Election and an election conducted under such Law, the Governor automatically looses the power to tamper with the tenure of such officials so elected because the same Law recognizes that the tenure of elected officials in the Local Governments shall be three years and it can not be subjected to the whims and caprices of the Governor.
The reason adduced by Makinde in sacking the Chairmen is purely a question of Law which he ought to seek legal opinion and interpretation in the court if the opinion given to him were unsatisfactory.
An avenue was provided by the Supreme court which would have saved him the current embarrassment he is facing.
While he was locked in legal battle with the sacked Chairmen in the lower court, the Supreme court delivered a judgement in respect of the Governor of Katsina state and the Chairmen sacked by him.
The Supreme court held that it was illegal for any Governor to sack duly elected Chairmen.
The court went further to mandate the Attorney general of the Federation to collect copies of the judgment and forward to states locked in such legal quigmire.
I remember vividly well that the Attorney general followed up on this instructions from the Supreme court and he forwarded the judgment to Governor Makinde with a covering letter asking that the sacked Chairmen be reinstated in line with the judgment and recommendations of the Supreme court.
Unfortunately, Makinde would have none of such.
He made both the judgment and the letter of the AGF a subject of public ridicule and his Media guys had a field day taunting the AGF whom they described as a meddlesome interloper.
Governor Makinde would fight the battle up to the Supreme court, wasting resources on Legal fees and accumulating huge fines as punishment.
Now, having lost the matter at the Supreme court, one would have expected that the Governor would see reason and opt for genuine political solutions but no. He won’t.
He instituted another action seeking for some funny clarifications in the judgment of the Supreme court and that also traversed to the Court of Appeal where he also lost, fined heavily and rebuked by the court.
I believe, based on the victory at the court of Appeal, the sacked Chairmen resumed the garnishee proceedings and got the order today.
I must say that all the Governors who find themselves in the same shoes in 2019 have dignified themselves by complying with the decision of the Supreme court.
Now, what will be the consequences of this current development?
Pure and simple. Debts and more debts for Oyo state.
Only God and Governor Makinde knows the amount of Oyo state money that have been expended as Legal fees on this needles voyage to nowhere.
Two, whether we like it or not, by the recklessness of one man, Oyo state money will be used to pay two sets of Local Government officials for a particular period.
Those illegally sacked and those illegally selected.
What a waste!
I think it is time citizens begin to take accountability seriously.
By implications, those Chairmen selected by Makinde for the period which the Chairmen of Ajimobi were supposed to be in office have occupied such offices illegally.
I will like to see Governor Makinde and those pretenders taken to court to return all the allocation illegally received and squandered during their illegal tenure.