There’s No Vacancy In Ekiti Councils, Says Wole Ayeni; Gov Blames Crisis On PDP


Former Chairman of Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State and spokesperson of the sacked local council chairmen, Wole Ayeni, has described the caretaker committees as “illegal,” saying that the removal of the local government chairmen did not follow due process.

He warned the newly appointed caretaker committee not to touch the money belonging to the councils.

According to Ayeni, “the caretaker chairmen should be informed that there is no vacancy in the 16 local government secretariats of Ekiti State until December 22, 2011. Even after the expiration of our tenure in December, we are going to be replaced by another set of duly elected representatives of the people.

“I want to say that the era of caretaker committee to take charge of the local government administration is gone in our modern day democracy. Honestly, it won’t work as it has been described as unconstitutional by the 23 April judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division in a case between Chigozie Eze and 147 others versus the Governor of Abia State, Attorney General of Abia State and Abia State House of Assembly.

“The Appeal Court judgment had nullified every state law that empowered the governor of the state to terminate the tenure of democratically elected local government chairmen and councillors and replacing them with members of caretaker committees selected by the state government.

“It was ruled that this violates Section 7(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution does not recognise transition or caretaker committee to replace the democratically elected local government and it is ultra vires for any state governor to appoint caretaker committees to replace elected local government office holders.

“In view of the foregoing, we members of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Ekiti State, therefore warns the members of the illegal caretaker committee not to approve or spend local government money. Whoever that fails to comply with this warning will pay back every kobo approved or spent during the illegal tenure in office.”

Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Government has blamed the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for allegedly disrupting activities at local government secretariats.

While thanking the people for their cooperation as the new caretaker chairmen assumed duties, Governor Kayode Fayemi assured them of security.

According to the governor, “now that peace has returned to the state and the new local government teams have settled down to business, the government appeals to all aggrieved parties to follow the path of legality by taking their perceived grievances to court.”

Fayemi said the government was aware of an inflammatory statement by the PDP chairman, Bola Olu-Ojo, which heightened tension in the councils, adding, “we expect him to embrace peace and call his party members to order so that together, development can come to the grassroots.

“If this appeal to Mr. Bola Olu-Ojo to see reason goes unheeded, the security agents shall hold him and the PDP responsible for any breach of the peace in the state.

“Even when we were at the political and judicial receiving ends, we never resorted to self-help. The PDP in Ekiti should be tolerant as we are and should learn how to tackle the opposition critically on all issues and not through violence.”

The governor urged the PDP headquarters to advise the state chapter to begin preparations for next year’s elections to avoid using the councils’ dissolution as an excuse for its failure at the polls, noting that in other states where local governments were dissloved, the opposition went to court without resorting to violence.

Ekiti PDP should take a cue from that, the governor advised.

But the PDP accused the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) government of allegedly invading the secretariats with thugs and unleashing violence on members of the public.

A statement by Olu-Ojo in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, said “today, the ACN government in Ekiti State continued with its reign of terror by invading some local government secretariats with armed thugs and unleashing violence on members of the public and security agents.

“In deference to the order of the Inspector-General of Police directing the seal off of all council secretariats in the state, we had directed our members to stay away from the councils.

“However, the ACN government invaded the council secretariats with armed thugs, recruited from the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and forcefully gained entry into the sealed local government secretariats.

“In the process of carrying out this operation, the thugs who moved around in a Toyota Sequia jeep marked ‘Mentillo’ and 17 buses loaded with dangerous weapons, caused pandemonium in the state and injured several people at Ikole Local Government.”

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