Ibadan — Sacked Local government chairmen in Oyo State under the aegis of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) thursday vowed to battle the Governor Seyi Makinde administration "force with force" over plans to appoint caretaker chairmen for the 33 local government areas of the state and sole administrators for the 35 local council development areas (LCDAs).
The Chairman of the association in the state, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye, made the disclosure while addressing a press conference tagged: 'The Final Push by a Lawless Government' which was attended by all the sacked chairmen and councillors across the state.
According to him, "We warn that any attempt by the governor to impose caretaker committees on the councils when the appeal the state government filed is yet to be heard while a perpetual restraining order against dissolution of elected council administration is still subsisting will be considered as the final push that will exhaust our patience.
"We will be very ready to defend our mandates, popularly given to us by the people who elected us into position of responsibility. You do not sit on a chair that is not vacant except court clears the seat for you or you take the seat by force, a recipe for violence and lawlessness.
"ALGON has resolved at our last meeting that in the event of an invasion of the council secretariats by the Seyi Makinde Forces of Occupation, we will be more than ready to defend the councils and the sanctity of the peoples' mandate freely given to us.
"All elected local government chairmen and councillors are hereby put on notice and be at alert anytime the governor makes his final push. Where tradition is lacking, a striking example is very necessary. Action and reaction are equal and opposite."
He alleged that Makinde "gave an obnoxious directive less than three hours after his swearing-in through his Chief of Staff, Chief Bisi Ilaka, dissolving all democratically elected authorities of local government and local council development areas with 'immediate effect.'"
"The directive also stated that all chairmen should handover to their Heads of Local Government Administration and embargo placed on all councils accounts until further notice. Since the announcement of this military-like coup against elected local government, the state has been thrown into a series of lawlessness and impunity which has adversely affected development and democratic running of local administration in Oyo State.
"Our people at the grassroots daily bear the pains of this lawlessness, while the governor fiddles with his team unconcerned with the crisis of governance at the most important level of governance.
"Our immediate and sustained response to this act of illegality by the administration was to follow the path of legality and rule of law to remind the government of the serious threat to democracy its dangerous approach to governance and flagrant disobedience of court order meant to disrupt sustained peace and development in the state.
"We reminded the government through an official letter to his office and many public statements, including a world press conference, calling the governor's attention to his violation of a subsisting court injunction against dissolution of local government in the state as ordered by Justice A.A. Aderemi of High Court 2, Ibadan, Oyo State on May 6, 2019. The enrolment of order was contained in the suit No: 1/347/2019.
"This dissolution was also a clear breach of Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which states that: 'The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed.'
"The Supreme Court has also ruled against dissolution of elected local government councils (by the governors) in similar cases in Ekiti and other states. Again, Governor Seyi Makinde will be making history as the First Governor to breach the NFIU guidelines with this move.
"We, the elected chairmen and councillors as members of ALGON, Oyo State, have been seeking all constitutional and peaceful means to correct this illegal act of state governor, but it is now very clear that the government has decided, out of its own volition, to be deaf and dumb to all voices of reason and wisdom in its flagrant disobedience of court order and it is in an hurry to push Oyo State into a state of anomie, a lawless state where the rule of men not rule of law reigns.
"Despite the fact that the state government has filed an appeal against the high court judgment perpetually restraining it from dissolving the elected council government, Oyo State governor has again publicly disclosed his plan to constitute 'very soon' caretaker committees in all the 33 councils and sole administrators in the 35 local council development areas.
"We consider this as an act of illegality, executive rascality, an affront to the judiciary and rule of law. The governor's desperate plan to break the peace and return the state to the old days of 'pankere' lawless politics of thuggery where might is right will be resisted by all democratic and peaceful means."
He, however, appealed to "the good people of Oyo State to prevail on Governor Makinde not to push the state into violence, but he should tow the path of honour and respect the rule of law which he sworn to uphold."