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LG crisis: AGF not properly briefed, his action selective—Oyo AG

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The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, on Monday, stated that the intervention of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the dissolution of local government leadership in Oyo State was selective and as a result of lack of proper briefing.

Oyewo, who stated this while appearing on a Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, maintained that the AGF was not properly briefed on the local government situation in Oyo State.

According to him, the dissolved council chairmen were not properly constituted, having emerged from an election that was held in disobedience to an existing court order.

He said: “If he [AGF] were to be aware of the fact that the matter was sub judice, probably he would not have taken such wanton, liberal interpretation of his powers. His powers are guided by law, by the Constitution of the land and as interpreted by the court.”

Oyewo, a professor of Law and former Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, added that the AGF lacked the power at large to enforce judgment without going through the process of the enforcement of judgment in compliance with the rules of the court that gave the judgment.

He added that Malami’s actions were partisan and not based on the Constitution, noting that though many APC-controlled states were operating Caretaker Committees and had dissolved elected local government leadership, policemen have not been sent to enforce “anybody’s rights as it were.”

Oyewo stated that though his office was not served with the AGF’s later dated 14th January, 2020 and that the letter only came to its notice on 22nd January, 2020, due to the seriousness of the letter, it penned a rejoinder to the AGF in which it made the following facts clear.

“One; there is no such Supreme Court judgment against Oyo State. Two, the Attorney General of the Federation does not have power, at large, to be enforcing judgment without going through the process of enforcement of the judgment in compliance with the rules of the court that gave the judgment.

“As if that was not alarming enough, a letter was written through the Inspector General of Police giving a direction that was supposed to be given to the chairman of APC in Oyo State and the chairman of ALGON to, as it was, reinstate local government and LCDA chairmen who have a matter in court against the Oyo State government. And the matter at that time was, and still is, at the court of Appeal.

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“We wrote this to bring to the attention of the Inspector General of Police and, at the same time, we took steps before the proper forum for it to be decided, which is before the court, and that seemed to have untamed the ravaging effort of the Police and the people that they were trying to use.

“As you have heard, there was violence and all that, but carefully an ex parte order was granted against any further action of such parties without any court order that is emanating to give priority to the AGF or the Inspector General of Police to take those actions.”

According to Oyewo, the AGF’s actions were clearly not based on law or the Constitution of the land but purely partisan.

He further said:  “Basically, the Attorney General of the Federation will have his reasons but they are not based on the Constitution. They are not based on law, because it [the action] was so partisan. You do not write a letter to the chairman of a party in a state directing the Governor to review. We run a federal system of government. If there is anything, and this has been settled by the Supreme Court, even under the regime of President [Olusegun] Obasanjo, where there was a dispute as to the creation of local governments and the government withheld the funds of Lagos State, the Supreme Court came out. If you have such issues you go to court and that was what we have done.”

Responding to the question on whether Governor Makinde had the powers to dissolve elected local governments chairmen, Prof. Oyewo noted that the election that brought the chairmen in was null and void, as it was conducted against an existing court order, which invalidated the constitution of the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission.

He added that the Makinde administration inherited litigations between the sacked APC local government chairmen and the APC-controlled State Government under Senator Abiola Ajimobi and that the existence of a stay of execution on a judgment secured by the sacked chairmen left a vacuum in the local councils.

He stated that Governor Makinde only filled the vacuum pending the resolution of the matters or the time his administration could conduct a proper election into the local governments.

The Oyo AG said: “I think I have to give background to that. Before the present administration came into existence, the previous administration of Governor Ajimobi ran the caretaker committee system for seven years. In the twilight of that administration, against an existing court order that invalidated the composition of the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission and also any attempt to use that [OYSIEC] to conduct that election, is null and void.

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“Be that as it may, towards the twilight, it was supposed to be a booby trap so that by the time our administration comes in, irrespective of the mandate of the people that there should be a party alternation from APC to PDP, we now had to have an administration of APC at the local governments. Now, that is not even a problem. The matter is, that same APC local government composition went to court against Governor Ajimobi, which is the case that we inherited challenging the State Government because they heard rumours that the Governor wanted to dissolve them.

“Before we came in, the pleadings were there; Ajimobi said ‘I am not going to sack you’ and the matter should have ended there. But for one reason or the other, the judgment was given against the Government and that became the subject matter of appeal. That appeal led to a stay of execution and because there was a stay, there was a vacuum. And, of course, don’t forget that under Section 7 of the constitution, the State Government makes laws and there is the local government law that regulate the activities of Oyo State local governments.

“We must make a distinction in the light of the decisions of the court, between the local government administration and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs). The LCDAs basically are inchoate creations within the realm of the arrangement of the State Government. So, a distinction must be made between the LCDAs and the local governments as they were. That distinction has never been made due to the conduct of the affairs as we inherited them. So, it was thought that this administration seems to have inherited an APC infrastructure including those on ground. It was thought let us have an audit, to see what was actually on ground and that was what led to the action of saying that they should step aside and allow some other people take a look at the account and all the affairs of the state and manage them until the matter is resolved. And the moment we resolve the matter of OYSIEC, then we can properly plan for the conduct of the election.”

When asked whether there was a possibility of the sacked chairmen coming back to office, Prof. Oyelowo said what the State Government did was to dissolve them and that if the court eventually pronounces the Government’s action null and void, Governor Makinde as someone who believes in and maintains the rule of law would not act in contravention.

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“Of course, the bottom line of it is that the administration of Governor Makinde believes in the rule of law and we maintain it. If a judgment comes out of the court directing as it were that our action is null and void, of course that will be done.”

Prof. Oyewo further maintained that once all the ongoing issues surrounding the local government administration in the State are resolved, the Government would, within a short time, conduct a credible local government election and have the local government system running properly.

He said: “Seriously, some of these matters are not legal matters but political matters that need to have a legal context. What everybody wants is for the State to be able to resolve this matter, both in the aspect of the legality of it and in terms of the political process.

“Within a short time from now, we hope to conduct the election and have the administration properly running. If not for the litigations that are pending, it is something that should have been done almost immediately but we inherited those problems and we have to find a political and legal solution.

“As it is now, the local government matter is at the court of appeal; it is coming up now on the 27th of February. The one that we have got is coming up on the 5th of this month. All things being equal, before the end of the first quarter, everything should be resolved. And we should be able to conduct a free and fair election into the local governments.”

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Politics

40 Days After: We ‘re yet to come to terms with  Ajimobi’s death – Oyo APC Women 

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As the 40-day Fidau prayer of the late former governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, holds tomorrow in his private residence, the leadership of the Women’s wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state has disclosed that most members of the party as well as admirers of the deceased were yet to come to terms with the reality of his death for many good reasons.

Ajimobi died at a Lagos hospital on June 25, 2020 and he was buried in his Oluyole residence on June 28, 2020 in accordance with Islamic traditions. He was, until his death, the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the APC having left office as the Executive Governor of the Pacesetter state on May 29, 2019 after serving for an unprecedented two terms of uninterrupted eight years.

Speaking with a cross section of journalist at the Party’s Secretariat in Oke-Ado, Ibadan on Wednesday, the APC’s State Woman Leader, Mrs Mabel Williams, described the late former governor as a quintessential leader, humanitarian par excellence and wonderful being whose memory would linger forever in the hearts of many people especially family members, political associates, admirers and good people of the state.

Her words; “it is still very difficult for many of us to accept the reality of the demise of our leader who spent the greater part of his 70 years on earth to serve his people, fatherland and humanity as a whole. Sen. Ajimobi was the best thing to have happened to us as women in the politics of the state because he was never tired of listening to us.

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“Most monumental achievements he recorded as the governor of the state for eight years are there till tomorrow for the whole world to see and appreciate.

“As members of his immediate family put up arrangements for another Fidau prayers to mark the 40th day of his transition to glory, the teeming women population of Oyo APC are united in supplications for God to repose his soul and grant him eternal rest. We also use this avenue to sympathise with our mother, the immediate past First Lady of the state, Chief (Mrs) Florence Ajimobi and the entire Ajimobi family.

“We are grateful to God for giving Her Excellency, Mrs Ajimobi, the courage to cope with the challenges associated with the untimely death of her husband and we solemnly pray God Almighty to bless her with good health, peace of mind and longevity to enable her continue to paddle the canoe of family, societal and political service which her beloved husband has parted with.” Williams said.

Other members of the Wing who toed the line of Mrs Williams to extol the virtue of late former governor are; Mrs Toyin Ajibade (Deputy State Woman Leader), Mrs. Taiwo Motélèolá (Oyo South Senatorial district’s Woman Leader), Alhaja ‘Juwon Adewuyi (Oyo Central Senatorial district’s Woman Leader) and Mrs Juliana Ajuwon (Oyo North Senatorial district’s Woman Leader.

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Alaafin lauds philanthropic gesture of ‘Wolekanle’ to human development

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Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo on Wednesday commended Mr. Akinwale Akinwole popularly known as ‘Wolekanle’ for his numerous support and dedication to human development in the state, especially Ogbomoso town.

Alaafin gave the commendation while receiving the Ogbomoso-born philanthropist and politician at his palace, in Oyo town. The foremost Monarch noted that he was aware of all his efforts geared towards putting smile on people’s faces.

“I have heard much about you and I am happy that responsible youths like you are coming up in the political arena. It is a good development and I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

“Continue to make people happy. Don’t betray the confidence that is being reposed in you by the people. And in politics, ensure you join forces to move Nigeria forward. God will continue to guide you”, Oba Adeyemi advised.

In his short remarks, Akinwole lauded Alaafin’s ingenuity in promoting Yoruba culture and tradition.

He also informed the custodian of culture of his intention to participate actively in politics.

“As a father, I am here to greet you and formally inform you of my intention to be involved in active politics. I need your blessings and prayers. And I promise that you will be proud of me”, he assured.

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N100bn Bond: NCC boss, Akande cautions Makinde against excessive borrowing

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Prof. Akande

Alarmed at the approval of the issuance of a N100 billion bond by the Oyo State government, Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, on Wednessday cautioned Governor Seyi Makinde against excessive borrowing.

Governor Makinde had on Wednesday morning announced the approval of the loan tagged “Oyo Prosperity Bond” which, according to him, will facilitate the execution of priority projects that will further drive economic development in the State.

This is coming after the administration secured close to N50 billion loans in the first 14 months of its emergence.

It will be recalled that the Oyo Assembly had on May 19, 2020, approved a N22.5 billion infrastructure loan from a commercial bank. Before that, on October 10, 2019, the Assembly had approved the sum of N7.6 billion for the upgrading of two farm settlements in Akufo and Eruwa, to Farm Estates.

The APC chieftain, Akande, who hails from Otu, headquarters of Itesiwaju local government area of the State, explained that there is nothing bad about borrowing, but added that what such loans seek to achieve must be of economic benefit to the people of the State.

According to him, “Nobody needs to be told that the Nigerian economy has not been good for years. Many states have been struggling to meet their obligations. So, if any state is to borrow to fund any project, such project must be one that would bring economic development to the State.

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“While I am not against infrastructure development in our dear State, proper evaluation needs to be done to determine which projects should be financed through borrowing. It should not be about borrowing to finance just any project. We have got to a stage where projects to be embarked upon by government at all levels must be ones that will lead to increase in internally generated revenue, draw investors to the State, create wealth for the people and ease the financial burden of the State.

“The Ibadan Circular Road project, for example, is a laudable one. It is a project that would open up the State and bring about an increase in IGR if properly harnessed. However, it is economically unhealthy to borrow to finance the project. Late Governor Abiola Ajimobi, I recall, had awarded the project via a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement before the incumbent government ordered the company to stop work. What I think the government should have done was to engage a company with the capacity to fund it via a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangement.

Prof. Akande also advised Governor Makinde against burdening taxpayers in the State with funding the expansion of the Ibadan Airport.

“The airport is a federal responsibility. Rather than burden taxpayers in the State with the cost of expanding the airport, Governor Makinde should work with representatives of Oyo State in the National Assembly to secure federal funding for the expansion of the airport by the Ministry of Aviation. The federal government is presently expanding many airports across the country, and Oyo State should not exclude herself from this benefit. The recourse to state finance for the airport project is an indication of failure in ensuring cordial federal-state relations by the Oyo State Government.

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“The government must not impose an extra burden on taxpayers in the State by self-funding projects that can be funded by the federal government or the private sector”, he said.

Urging Governor Seyi Makinde to be creative in the aspect of fund generation and harnessing Oyo State’s economic potentials, Akande lamented the neglect of major infrastructural facilities across the State which, he said, should be useful for economic growth.

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