We are back in office, Oyo council chiefs insist

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By Akeem Abas/Ibrahim Abdulazeez

Ibadan – The sacked local government chairmen and councillors in Oyo State on Monday insisted that they had resumed in their various offices.

Mr Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye, the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) Chairman in the state, made the claim in Ibadan amidst conflicting from the Local Government Councils and Local Council Development Areas.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that while there were reported cases of forced resumption in some council areas the sit-at-home directive of ALGON to its members had prevented others from accessing their offices.

But Abass-Aleshinloye insisted that the resumption in office of the council executives after an eight-month protracted faceoff with the state government was in compliance with a Supreme Court judgment.

He said: “The same thing happened in Ekiti. The governor of Ekiti reinstated these people and allowed them to complete their tenure and they finished.

“The same thing happened in Ogun. In Ogun State, they finished their tenure in December. The man allowed them to finish their tenure. will our own be different?

“We have our tenure to expire next year and after the expiration of our tenure, you still have about two years to conduct election. If it happens to him as governor; I, as a person will come out and fight for him.

“We are fully back in office. The days of impunity in this country are over.”

The ALGON chairman, who had earlier resumed in his office, claimed that majority of their members had resumed at their offices except the few cases where some of them were locked out.

NAN recalls that Gov. Seyi Makinde had on assumption of office in May 2019 sacked the elected local government chairmen and councillors who had just concluded a year of their three-year tenure.

NAN that Mr Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, had in a letter forwarded to the state’s Attorney General recently demanded the reinstatement of the sacked local government executives.

The AGF had urged the state government to reverse itself and comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court which described dissolution of elected local government executives and inauguration of caretaker committees as unconstitutional.

Similarly, IGP Mohammed Abubakar had also in another letter urged ALGON and the State APC to liaise with the State toward initiating appropriate action on resumption.

In Ibadan West Local Council Development Area and Ibadan North-West Local Government Council, both in Ibadan metropolis, workers were not allowed into the council secretariats on Monday.

Mr Mogaji Ajadi, the Caretaker Chairman of Ibadan North-West Local Government council, said that the security men did not allow anybody to enter into the council secretariat.

“The police said they have not received signal to allow the elected officials to return to their offices,” adding also that the workers were also on ‘self-imposed strike,” Ajadi said.

Mr Bayo Titilola-Sodo, the State NULGE president, told NAN in a telephone interview that their members complied fully with the union’s sit-at-home directive to workers.

Titilola-Sodo said that they would continue to study the situation and every report to know the next line of action.

He said that received so far indicated that there were few cases of forceful entry into some council secretariats.

Another person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “we were told that the local government secretariats in Ogbomoso were open and that the elected chairmen were allowed into their offices, wondering those in Ibadan were under lock and key.”

NAN reports that the entrance gate to Ibadan North-West Council was under lock and key, while workers were seen in groups discussing the development outside the council premises.

Also, the personnel of the Nigerian Police Force and the Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were on ground to prevent any breakdown of law and order.

Titilola-Sodo and the NULGE Secretary, Chuks Nwankwo, had directed their members to stay away from work with effect from Monday until further notice.

The union said that all offices and entrances to the council secretariats should be locked to ensure peace, safety and security in the workplaces.

But the Iseyin branch of NULGE alleged that some members of All Congress (APC) had forced their way into the council’s secretariat.

The chairman of the branch, Mr Raji Olakunle, who made disclosure in an interview with NAN in Iseyin, said that the APC members stormed the council secretariat in their numbers in the early hours of Monday.

“In the early hours of today , I was at the secretariat to monitor the sit-at-home order, and I saw heavy presence of police men at the entrance of the secretariat.

“Later I saw a very large crowd of identified APC members , the sacked chairman and his councillors as well as other unidentified members of APC.

“The police looked helpless as they forced all our gates, including the office of the chairman open and started singing.

“It’s Important for me to say that we are civil servants and what is most important to us is the safety and welfare of our members , we don’t take sides at all, “ he said.

In his reaction, however, the Chairman of APC in the state, Mr Akin Oke, told NAN in a telephone interview that the development was unfortunate.

“The governor should learn from APC states that have opposition at the council levels.

” I will give him examples of Imo, Kwara and Ekiti, politics shouldn’t be a do-or-die affair , you win some and lose some.

“As a party, we have told our council chairmen to resume in accordance with the Supreme Court order and they should avoid violent acts and conduct, we must be exemplary , “ he said.