By Scroll reporter Lagos, Nigeria.
The Oyo State Government has said it would rigorously contest the legality of the interim injunction emanating from the creation of the 35 Local Government Development Areas (LCDAs) and restricting the state from conducting local governments’ election, saying that it borders on the welfare of the entire citizens, payment of salaries and grassroots development.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Oluseun Abimbola, who stated this on Tuesday at a press briefing held at the governor’s office, noted that the state government would abide by all the orders in the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/16/2017 pending determination by the court.
Abimbola pointed out that one the orders directing the 2nd (Accountant General of the Federation), 3rd (Central Bank of Nigeria) 4th (Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission) and 5th (Federal Ministry of Finance) defendants to warehouse in an interest yielding account, all monies and or allocations belonging to the distorted 33 constitutionally recognised local governments in Oyo State, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice was an ambush on the allocation meant for the local governments in the state which would affect the welfare of the people, payment of salaries and the development of the grassroots.
The AG and Commissioner of Justice, who was assisted at the briefing by his counterparts from the Ministries of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and Information, Culture and Tourism, Messrs. Bimbo Kolade and Toye Arulogun as well as the Special adviser to Governor Ajimobi on Communication and Strategy, Yomi Layinka, urged the citizens of the state to be peaceful and law abiding, stressing that local governments election would still hold but not until the judicial process affecting its conduct dealt with.
According to Abimbola, “fifteen (15) claimants filed actions on behalf of some villages in some LGs in Oyo and 10 defendants have been joined in the suit which include the Oyo State Government, Oyo State House of Assembly, the Attorney General of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, Central Bank of Nigeria, Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission, Federal Ministry of Finance, Independent National Electoral Commission, Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission and Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the Alaafin of Oyo.
“The suit emanated based of the grievances of these plaintiffs on the creation of LCDAs in about two local governments in Oyo Town. They submitted their petitions to the LCDAs Petitions Review Committee headed by me like other aggrieved parties and they have made their presentations. Our committee has been sitting and complaints have been reviewed. However, we are surprised that the state government is taken to court over the issue they have made presentations on. They have the right to do so under that the provision of the constitution and the legality of the orders will be rigorously contested by the government.
“Meanwhile, we are going to abide by the interim order and that puts the conduct of the already scheduled February 11, 2017 local government election on hold. The nation’s electoral body has been directed not to release the voters’ register and without this, there cannot be election. We want to reassure the citizens that election will hold as soon as we settle the court case. We urge the citizens to be law abiding and be peaceful in their endeavours,” Abimbola stressed.
Speaking at the briefing while responding to questions, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun noted that it is a misrepresentation of facts for some individuals and groups to insinuate that the state government orchestrated the suit, adding that it would be unreasonable for the Oyo State Government to go to court to seek an order aimed at crippling the finances of local governments in the state at a very critical time such as this. He added that the order of the court had far reaching implications on the Government and the governed in the state.
He reiterated that the government has shown its readiness for the conduct of the elections by instituting OYSIEC, setting a date for elections, releasing funds for OYSIEC, printing of election materials and purchase of utility vehicles, pointing out that only a mischievous and cynical mind would doubt the government’s commitment to conduct the elections given the amount of evidence indicating the contrary.
The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Bimbo Kolade disclosed that majority of the people of the state had embraced the new LCDAs and demonstrated support by volunteering and pledging buildings as offices and homes, furniture and other essentials towards the successful take – off of the new LCDAs. He appealed to the people of the state to remain calm and assured them that government will implement the LCDAs as an actualization of the yearnings of the people.