The National Councillors Forum, Plateau State Chapter has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to immediately halt the release of monthly statutory allocations accrued to Plateau State Local Government Council due to illegal suspension of the duly elected Local Government Council Officials in Plateau State by the newly sworn in Governor Governor Caleb Mutfwang.
The call was made yesterday June, 5, 2023 by the leadership of the Forum and was read by Hon. John Dashe at a press conference which took place at Nigeria Union of Journalists (Nuj), Secretariat in Jos , Plateau State Capital.
Dashe stated that Local Government as the third tires of government in Nigeria were democratically elected local government council, against the background was passed into Law in 2016,upon which the election of the Councillors and Chairmen were conducted. This Law is still subsisting, and has not been repealed or nullified by any court of law.
Furthermore, Dashe revealed that the reason behind their actions is necessitated by the undue interference of the state government in the affairs of the local government administration in the state,and the recent illegal suspension of the 17 Local Government Chairmen in the state by the state using the instrumentality of the State House of Assembly.
“The National Councillors Forum further said with the absence of compliance with the law by the Plateau State House Of Assembly,we request Mr. President in line with our functions of appropriation and oversight of the expenditures and resources of our respective Local Governments, that Statutory Allocations be given to only democratic structures in Plateau State and none other as clearly envisaged by the law.”
The Forum’s Press statement reads as follows:
“We find it worrisome, that the Executive Governor of Plateau State Barrister Caleb Mutfwang, as part of his first official function as Governor will supervise over the suspension of Democratic Structures, the same system upon which he was inaugurated as Governor. “
“Gentlement of the Press, it is not in doubt that the Peoples Democratic Party’s legal challenge of their claim to be entitled to participate in the Local Government elections conducted in 2021 was unsuccessful from the High Court to the Supreme Court. Confronted with this seeming disadvantage, the Caleb Mutfwang Administration has opted to toe the line of embarking on illegality to achieve what the Party was unable to achieve at the polls.”
“The system of Local Government by democratically elected local government council is constitutionally guaranteed. It is in furtherance of this constitutional guarantee that the Plateau State Local Government Law, 2016 was passed into law, upon which the election of the Councillors and Chairmen were conducted. This Law is still subsisting, has not been repealed or nullified by any court of law. “
“We are aware that there is no provision in the Plateau State Local Government Law and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that empowers the Governor or the Plateau State Assembly to pass resolution or an advisory or recommendation to suspend democratic structures at the Local Governments. “
“This action by the Governor of Plateau State is a clear violation of the Constitution, the Plateau State Local Government Law and the decisions of the several courts including the Supreme Court. In the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the case of BASHORUN MAJEED BOSUN AJUWON & ORS VS GOVERNOR OF OYO STATE & ORS (2021) LPELR – 55339 (SC) AT PP 31-40, the Court said in “
“The Law on this point or issue is well established and it is no longer a scholarly secret that a democratically elected Local Government Council does not exist at the pleasure of whims and caprice of either Governor or the House of Assembly. “
“The misconception by the state authorities that the constitution does not intend to grant and guarantee autonomy to the Local Government is only a brain wave nurtured by sheer aggrandizement and megtomaniac instinct to conquer and make the Local Government a mere parastatals of the state. “
“That is the very mischief, section 7(1) of the constitution has set out to address and it must be so real and construed purportedly. The constitution and its provisions are to be read and construed broadly and liberally to promote their purpose: “
“NAFIU-RABIU VS THE STATE (1980) 9-11 SC 130, ONYEMA VS OPUTA (1987) 6 SC 362 AT 371, thus as Nweze JSC, had put is in GOVERNOR PF EKITI STATE VS OLUBUNMO (supra) the intendment of the constitution is to vouchsafe. The inviolability of the sacred mandate which the electorate at that level democratically donated to the Local Government Chairman and Councillors – EZE & ORS VS GOVERNOR, ABIA STATE (supra).…It is almost becoming a universal phenomena that democratically elected Governors have constituted themselves a specific most dangerous to democracy in this country.”
“They disdainfully disregard and disrupt democratically elected Local Governments. It should be reiterated as Abdullahi PCA and Ndukwe-Anyawu JCA – did say respectively in ABUBAKAR VS A.G FEDERATION (2007 3 NWLR PT 1072 601 CA AT 619 AND A.G BENUE STATE VS UMAR (CA)”
(SUPRA) AT 363, that an elected person is not an employee of anybody except the electorate that voted him in. it is only the electorate that voted him in that can fire him out. Democratically elections should always be sacrosanct in this country like in any other country for democracy to thrive. Local Government Chairman and Councillors being persons duly elected by the people cannot just be removed and their council dissolved whimsically and arbitrarily by any other elected persons in clear abuse of their office and powers. It is not right in law and under the constitution to do that”
Our Governor, who is a Legal Practitioner cannot claim not to be aware of the decision of the Supreme Court in the fact that no Gvoernor of a State or House of Assembly has any power to do what he has done. Indeed, the action in the opinion of the Supreme Court amounts to clear ‘abuse of office and powers’. We find it even more worrisome that the
“Governor of Plateau State, who in 2015 challenged his removal as Chairman of Mangu Local Government will do the same thing he complained about some 8 years ago.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, although we have not been served as Legislative Councils in the 17 Local Governments with any official correspondence with regards to our suspension WE HEREBY REJECT the resolution passed recommending or advising our suspension by the Plateau State House of Assembly and its purported approval by the Governor. “
“All the 325 Councillors who constitute the Legislative Councils allegedly suspended in the 17 Local Government Areas of Plateau State emerged out of democratic elections conducted in accordance with Section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 7(2) of the Plateau State Local Government Law 2016 and that of PLASIEC Law 2011.
There is no justification for the action of the Plateau State Government acting in concert with the Ayuba Abok leadership of the Plateau State House of Assembly purportedly passed a resolution suspending the legislative council of the Local Government Area Councils. “
“It is indeed very strange that Governor Caleb Mutfwang can purport to have acted on a resolution passed by the House presided over by Mr. Ayuba Abok, who had ceased to be a member of the Plateau State House of Assembly, when his seat was declared vacant in 2021 and has not been challenged or reversed. This is illegality taking too far.
It is laughable that the legislative Councils whose functions as stated in the Plateau State Local Government Law 2016 is limited to appropriation and oversight with no dealings whatsoever with the financial administration of their respective Local Governments can be said to be suspended for reasons of the alleged inability of Council Chairmen and NOT the LEGISLATIVE COUNCILS to submit financial statements to the House of Assembly. “
“How also can anyone justify the suspension of the entire Democratic structures at the entire 17 Local Governments for an alleged investigation of Financial Impropriety arising out of alleged inability of Council Chairmen to submit financial statements to the House of Assembly?”
“How can it be justified that the Councillors forming the Legislative Councils can be said to be guilty of not honouring a request in a letter requesting for Financial Statement allegedly routed through the ALGON Chairman when they have totally no dealings with the said letter not being part of ALGON. These amongst several queries are clear signals of the deliberateness of the use of the Public offices to flout the law and we beg to disagree with these steps.”
“We are further aware, that these actions of the Plateau State Government, are made in clear disregard and also deliberately calculated to make mockery and overreach the pending judicial proceedings before the Hon. Justice Kunda of the High Court of Justice No. 3 Plateau State over the same issue of interference with the offices of elected officials at the 17 Local Governments in Plateau State.”
THE POSITION OF THE LAW & OUR RESOLUTION
“In accordance with Section 7 of the Constitution and the commitment of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to govern by the rule of law and the recent decision of the Supreme Court on interference by State Government officials with Democratic structures at the Local Government, you will agree with me that the actions of the Governor and house of Assembly are clearly not in accordance with the rule of law.
Our resolutions arising out of the foregoing for the avoidance of doubt once more are as follows;
Our tenure as spelt out by the law is three years and is still in existence and the action and the alleged suspension in order to truncate our lawful tenure and mandate of three years provided by Section 23 of the Plateau State Local Government Law 2016 is not in accordance with the law. The plan to replace the suspended democratic structures in the 17 Local Government Areas with illegal caretaker or management committees to be appointed from the PDP is not supported by any law of the land.”
“We further reject the alleged approval of our suspension from office being circulated in the social media and credited to Gyang Bere Media Assistant to the Governor and the resolution of the Plateau State House of Assembly. These actions are out rightly illegal because there is no law empowering them to interfere with the Democratic structures of the Legislative Councils in the 17 Local Government Councils in Plateau State in the manner being done.”
“We are ready to challenge through every lawful means these illegalities being perpetrated against us and call on the Inspector General of Police through the Commissioner of Police Plateau State and all Security Agencies to resist lending aid to the perpetration of these illegalities and we ask for protection in the course of the discharge of our lawful functions at our Chambers of the Legislative Councils in the 17 Local Government Areas because we have no means of using any brute force except the force of the law.”
“We are willing to attend to any lawful investigation of financial impropriety by the agencies with the mandate under the law should it be considered necessary.”
“We request the Governor in the interest of justice and the rule of law to rescind his decision in order to make way for the harmonious and collaborative existence of the State and Local Government for the benefit and interest of the people of Plateau State who are directly affected by this avoidable disruption.”
“We call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Tinubu being the Commander in Chief to request the authorities in Plateau State to respect the rule of law, and also await and abide by pending judicial proceedings to be concluded on this matter. “
“In the absence of compliance with the law, we request Mr. President in line with our functions of appropriation and oversight of the expenditures and resources of our respective Local Governments, that Statutory Allocations be given to only democratic structures in Plateau State and none other as clearly envisaged by the law.”