A former Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, at the weekend advised the Kwara State Government to jettison its plan to appeal against the judgment of a state High Court in Ilorin that sacked the appointed caretaker committee in the 16 local government areas of the state.
Abdullahi, however, said the state government should without further delay conduct local government council polls in the state.
Also, a pro-democracy group in the state, Kwara Must Change, in a statement issued and signed by its Convener, Mr. Razaq Hamzat, at the weekend urged the state government to conduct the local government election as soon as possible, instead of engaging in a prolonged legal battle against the judgement of the court.
A state High Court in Ilorin at the weekend sacked the composition of the Transitional Implementation Committee in the 16 local government areas by the state Governor, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
An anti-corruption group in the state, Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENETSUD), has dragged the state government to the court over the composition of the TIC members into the local government councils in the state and won at the court.
The court in its judgement presided over by Justice Halima Gegele described the composition of TIC in the 16 local government areas of the state as illegal and unconstitutional.
The state government in its reaction vowed to challenge the judgement at the Court of Appeal.
However, in a statement issued in Ilorin which was signed by the former Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Mallam Abdullahi, and made available to journalists in Ilorin, he said: “The judgment of the High Court on the issue of local government administration in Kwara State has been widely hailed by majority of Kwara people and all lovers of democracy in Nigeria.
“The state government would therefore abide by the court ruling and call for an election immediately.”
Abdullahi, who is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, described the government’s plan to appeal the judgement as “classic filibuster act, calculated to waste everybody’s time even at tax payers’ expense.
“Going by the posturing of the state government since the judgment was delivered, it does appear that for whatever reasons, the government would rather persist on what the court has rightly described as ‘executive rascality’ rather than submit itself to any kind of democratic assessment.
“The Kwara State Attorney General already described the High Court judgment as a ‘reasoning of the court’, and promised to pursue the matter to the appellate courts. But this is a case that the Supreme Court itself had already settled.”
The former APC spokesman added: “In a similar case in 2019, the Supreme Court had said: “An elected person is not an employee of anybody except the electorate that voted him into office.
“It is only the electorate who can fire him. In the instant case, councilors derive their mandate from the people who voted them in and are accountable to them
“Since Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution guarantees a system of Local Government Councils, then dissolution of local government councils by state governor and the appointment of Caretaker Committees to replace same is inconsistent with that Section, and it’s therefore null and void.
“Following this declaration by the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, in a January 2020 memo notified the states that the practice of running Caretaker Committees in place of elected officials at the local government level is illegal and that in view of the Supreme Court ruling on the matter, it has become ‘obligatory’ for all the states concerned to ‘immediately disband all Caretaker Committees and restore democratically elected representatives to man the local government.
“By way of emphasis, the AGF concluded as follow: ‘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 outright illegal and unconstitutional.”