By Bisi Oladele, Ibadan
The crisis rocking local governance system over the dissolution of the local government councils in Oyo State took a new dimension on Thursday when the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, directed Police Commissioner Mr. Shina Olukolu to initiate appropriate actions that will reinstate the sacked chairmen and councillors.
In a letter dated January 23, 2020 and addressed to the Oyo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Akin Oke, Adamu asked him to liaise with Olukolu to facilitate the implementation of the legal opinion of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
The AGF had, in a January 14 letter, advised the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to advise Governor Seyi Makinde to sack the recently appointed caretaker chairmen and reinstate the elected councils. He based his legal advice on the judgment of the Supreme Court, which stated that governors and houses of assemblies do not have the right to sack democratically-elected local government councils.
Thursday’s letter by the IGP titled: “Re: Unconstitutionality of Dissolution of Elected Local Government Councils and Appointment of Caretaker Committees: The Urgent Need for Compliance with Extant Judicial Decisions”, directed that the police commissioner takes actions to implement the legal opinion of the AGF.
The letter, signed by DCP Idowu Owohunwa, Principal Staff Officer to the Inspector-General of Police, indicates that it was in response to a petition by the Oyo State APC chairman.
The letter reads: “Your letter dated 23, January, 2020 on the above underlined subject, refers. I am to inform you that the Inspector-General of Police has directed the Commissioner of Police, Oyo State to initiate appropriate actions in line with the legal opinion of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on the matter. You may accordingly, liaise with him to facilitate.”
How it started
The immediate past administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of the APC conducted election into the 33 local governments and 35 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) on May 12, 2018. The poll was boycotted by many political parties, paving the way for APC candidates to clear all the seats including those of councilors.
The election came over 10 years after the last one organised by a former governor, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja. The delay was caused by a number of litigations preventing the state independent electoral commission from organising a fresh election.
Former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, appointed a caretaker committee throughout his four-year tenure. But Ajimobi’s administration dispensed with the cases and organised the May 12 election. Yet, the major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held that there was a High Court judgment which restrained the state electoral commission from conducting the election, particularly because of the LCDAs whose delineation was contested in some communities.
The PDP won the governorship election last year, paving the way for Makinde to succeed Ajimobi.
Before the new governor was sworn in, the elected chairmen dragged the state government, the House of Assembly and the state electoral commission to court, seeking an order restraining the first two from dissolving them, and the third from conducting a fresh election before the end of their three-year tenure. An Oyo State high court granted their prayers in a May last year judgment.
But Makinde ignored the judgment and announced their sack just two hours after he was sworn in on May 29, last year. He said their election was illegal because the 35 LCDAs were not recognised by the constitution.