•Police sue for peace
Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The police yesterday called for calm as the crisis over the removal of local government chairmen in Oyo State festered with the council helmsmen’s defiant return to work.
The state command Police Commissioner, Mr. Shina Olukolu, appealed to all the stakeholders involved in the administration of LGAs in the state to be circumspect in managing their differing interests.
He warned in a statement that nothing should be done to breach the peace.
Some of the local government chairmen, who were sacked by Governor Seyi Makinde, had earlier yesterday made good their threat to resume in their respective councils.
THISDAY had reported on Monday that 13 states of the federation, including Oyo, were still running local government administration without elected officials despite a judgment of the Supreme Court, which about four years ago expressly forbade them from doing so.
Makinde had shortly after his inauguration in May last year, dissolved the chairmen and asked them to hand over to the most senior career officers in their respective councils.
The council chairmen were elected during the May 10, 2019 local government elections conducted during the administration of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
But the chairmen, who are largely members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), kicked against their sacking by Makinde, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The furore generated by Makinde’s action prompted the intervention of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), who directed the governor to reinstate the sacked administrators in compliance with the extant Supreme Court judgment.
Malami, in a letter dated January 14, 2020, told the governor that in view of the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter that is binding on all the 36 states of the federation, “the common practice by some state governors in dissolving elected local government councils is unconstitutional, null and void.”
The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, also directed Olukolu to ensure the reinstatement of the sacked chairmen and councillors.
In a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the government warned the chairmen, saying its position became imperative following the threats of violence by the sacked chairmen and the stay-at-home order issued to all local government workers in the state by the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE).
But despite warning from the state government that the controversial chairmen should allow the court to determine the dispute, which is now before the Court of Appeal, they resumed yesterday.
Reports from all the 33 local government areas and 35 Local Council Development Areas showed that majority of the chairmen resumed though there were reports of violence in some of the councils.
THISDAY learnt that in Oluyole Local Government Area, the Chairman, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshiloye, resumed in his office and held prayer with some of his followers while the same was recorded in other local government areas such as Ibadan South East where Mr. Bimbo Omiyale resumed work.
Also, reports from Ibadan East Local Council Development Area, Ogbomoso Central Local Council Development Area, Iseyin Local Government Area, Itesiwaju Local Government Area and Ibarapa Central, indicated that the controversial chairmen resumed their various offices.
However, it was gathered that there were pockets of violence in Ibadan South East Local Government Area, which made Omiyale to leave immediately.
Abass-Aleshiloye, who is the state Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), said he and other members were ready to cooperate with the governor to move the state forward at the grassroots level.
While addressing journalists yesterday at ALGON office in Ibadan, the state capital, he added that he and his members had employed all peaceful and legal options to reclaim their mandate eight months after they were sacked.
He said their resolve to resume was premised on the Supreme Court judgment, which declared that no governor has the right to unjustly dissolve elected chairmen.
Abass-Aleshiloye, who urged local government workers to return to their various offices, called on the people to remain law abiding and not to panic.
He accused the governor of being intransigent on the issue, stressing that local government chairmen who were illegally sacked in Ogun, Ekiti, and Kwara had been returned.
According to him, “We have resumed, though NULGE (local government workers) members did not come today. We talked to the people, we held a prayer and we urged people to be law and abiding. Till the time that I left, there was no problem.
“But we just heard that there were some hoodlums that are going around to unleash violence on the people. But we assured people that we will be peaceful. By law, I am the Chairman of Oluyole Local Government Area.
“I am still compiling the report. We have majority of our people that resumed today, but there are some elements that want to attack us. We have instances in Ekiti, Kwara, Ogun where the sacked chairmen have been returned. Why will Oyo State be different?
“This is a self-inflicted pain on the people of Oyo State. For almost eight months, we have not been in the office; we waited and we are law-abiding people. Makinde has never called us. We must finish our tenures. We have spent one year in the office before he came and we must finish our tenures,” he stated.
Oyo Govt Warns Council Chairmen
The state government, however, described the action of the sacked chairmen as criminal and vowed to bring the full weight of the law to bear on them for their alleged violent takeover of the councils.
The state government, in a statement by the Special Adviser on Strategy and Political Matters to the governor, Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye, condemned what it called the unwarranted lawlessness and motor-park-like brigandage perpetrated by the sacked chairmen.
It accused them of breaking into council offices, vandalising gates, doors, windows and other property at the respective council secretariats.
The government, however, appealed to the people to remain calm, law-abiding and patient, pending the decision of the Court of Appeal on the matter slated for hearing on February 19. 2020.
It promised that “a drastic measure” would be taken on the reports of destruction and violence which characterised the takeover.
Police Appeal to Stakeholders to be Circumspect
But police in the state, in a statement, said their role should not be seen as a face-off but as part of the professional efforts geared towards the performance of their constitutional responsibilities.
In the statement entitled: “The re-instatement of erstwhile Local Governments/LCDAs Chairmen in Oyo,” which was released by the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Gbenga Fadeyi, the CP noted that it was the constitutional responsibilities of the police to protect lives and property in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Police Acts and Regulations.
“As the police continue to strive to provide adequate security at the respective local government offices; nonetheless, the stakeholders are enjoined to refrain from any act(s) or cause of action that may lead to breakdown of laws and order, lawlessness, and subsequent avoidable shedding of blood, injuries or damage to property.
“It is our hope that the issues at stake/unintended logjam will eventually be addressed to the satisfaction of all the groups concerned and in the best interest of the entire people of Oyo State who have no other state that they can call their own.
“In conclusion, social miscreants/criminal minded individuals/groups are hereby warned to stay clear from the premises of the Local Governments and LCDAs as the Police will not allow any such developments