The 16 local government chairmen suspended on Tuesday by the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, for alleged misappropriation of fund have filed contempt charges against the governor and the state House of Assembly at the state High Court, Ilorin.
The state chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Mr Joshua Omokanye, disclosed this on Wednesday while addressing journalists.
He said the governor’s order was against the judgment of a state High Court delivered last Thursday which barred him and the state House of Assembly from dissolving or suspending the local government chairmen who had up till November 2020 to complete their three-year tenure of office.
Omokanye, who is the chairman of Oyun Local Government Area, said, “Members of the public are being informed that there is a valid, subsisting and final judgment of the Kwara State High Court, Ilorin delivered on June 13, 2019 in suit No KWS/115/2019 between Hajia Risikat Opakunle and 15 others that determined that the governor of Kwara State and House of Assembly cannot dissolve the local government councils in the state or suspend the 16 local government chairmen during the tenure of their respective offices that will expire on November 27, 2020.
“Furthermore, members of the public are also being informed that the judgment referred to also affirmed that the governor of Kwara State and members of the state House of Assembly cannot freeze the bank accounts of the 16 local government councils.
“Till date, the judgment of the Kwara State High Court has not been set aside, vacated or nullified by any court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria, be it the High Court that delivered the judgment or Court of Appeal and it is not to our knowledge that any appeal has been lodged before any Court of Appeal by the governor or the state House of Assembly.”
While rejecting the suspension order placed on them, the ALGON chairman who was flanked by his 15 colleagues, described the action of the governor and the state lawmakers as “unconstitutional, null and void, and abuse of office.”
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has kicked against the suspension.
In a statement signed by the state chairman, Kola Shittu, on Wednesday, the party described the suspension as illegal and undemocratic.
It said it was wrong for the House of Assembly to recommend the suspension of the council chairmen on allegation of financial misappropriation when they had not been properly investigated or invited for questioning.
The statement read, “The council chairmen were lawfully elected in 2017 by the people for a three-year tenure which will expire in 2020.
“Neither the governor nor the state House of Assembly has the power to suspend or sack them before the expiration of their administrations.
“We wish to remind the lawmakers of a subsisting court order barring the state governor or any of his representatives, including the state House of Assembly from suspending or dissolving elected local government chairmen or interfering in their financial activities until the lawful expiration of their tenure in 2020.
“It is also instructive to note that the Supreme Court had also declared as illegal and unconstitutional the dissolution of local government councils by state governors and state Houses of Assembly.
“The decision of the Kwara State House of Assembly to suspend the elected council chairmen, therefore, amounts to reckless disregard of court order, abuse of power and rape of democracy that must be resisted by all lovers of democracy.
“We must not allow our democracy to be subverted by anti-democratic elements.
“It is unfortunate that lawmakers who are supposed to be advocates of justice and due process are the ones compromising the law and perpetrating illegality to serve the interest of their paymasters.”