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AGF writes Makinde, other Govs, demands immediate disbandment of caretaker committees

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Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) has requested Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court on the dissolution of local government administration in the state  in the overall interest of the rule of law and the nation’s democracy.

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Malami, in a letter with reference number HAGF/OYO/2020/Vol.I/I addressed  to the Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Prof Oyewo Oyewo, said he acted in line with his constitutional role as the chief law officer of the federation under Section 150 (1) of the 1999 constitution( as amended).

He stated that the need to immediately disband all caretaker committees and restore  democratically elected representatives to the local governments had therefore become obligatory.

Malami in the letter dated January 14, 2020 and  entitled: “Unconstitutionality of dissolution of elected government councils and appointment of caretaker committees: The urgent need for compliance with extant judicial decisions,” noted with dismay the continued non-adherence by some state governors and state Houses  of Assembly to the provisions of Section 7 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended as it relates to the existence, administration and control of local government councils in Nigeria.

He said this unpleasant development, without doubt, was hindering the much-needed grassroots development expected to be put in place by the third tier of government in the country.

The AGF, in the letter copied the Inspector General of Police, the Director General, Department of State Service (DSS); Acting Chairman , EFCC and the Director, NFIU , asked for immediate disbandment of caretaker arrangement in any state of the federation, in full compliance with Court of Appeal judgments in six states , and the Supreme Court judgment in a case involving Ekiti state governor and others versus Prince Sanmi Olubunmo and 13 others .

The  AGF said in view of the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter that is binding on all 36 States of the Federation “the common practice by some State Governors in dissolving elected local government councils is unconstitutional, null and void. So also any system of local government run by Caretaker Committees are outrightly illegal and unconstitutional.”

The letter reads further: “To this end, I hereby request all their Excellencies, State Governors and Speakers of State House of Assembly, who are currently acting in breach of the provisions of Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and also acting in disobedience of the Supreme Court judgement highlighted above to immediately retrace their step by ensuring compliance with the above in the overall interest of the rule of law and our democracy. The need to immediately disband all caretaker committee and restore democratically elected representatives to man the local governments has therefore become obligatory”.

Malami also requested the Justice Commissioners to take positive steps to ensure compliance adding: “Mr President and other relevant agencies will be advised further on compliance measures that should be taken in national interest.”

The Attorney General of the Federation said: “To this end, I hereby request all their excellencies, state governors, and speakers of houses of assembly, who are currently acting in breach of the provisions of Section 7 (1) of the 1999 constitution ( as amended) and also acting in disobedience of the Supreme Court judgment highlighted above , to immediately retrace their steps by ensuring compliance with the above in the overall interest of the rule of law and our democracy . The need to immediately disband all caretaker committees and restore  democratically elected representatives to the local governments has therefore become obligatory.”

Reacting to the development, the Chairman of ALGON, Prince Ayodeji Abass – Aleshinloye, described the decision as a welcome development, saying it had confirmed what they had always stood for that it was wrong for constitutionally elected local government chairmen to be so treated.

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