Let rule of law apply on sack of LG chairmen
By Jeff Nkwocha
Sunday, April 12, 2009 •More stories on this section
The fundaments of justice are that no one shall suffer wrong, and that the public good be served -Marcus Tullius Cicero
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria made it nearly impossible to remove the President and state governors. But the Constitution loses its grip when it comes to the third tier of government.
While the present local government councils derive the power and legitimacy from the Constitution, it however handed over their supervision to the states and their legislative houses, which invariably leads to the abuse of section 7(1).
This section stipulates that the government of every state shall ensure the existence of democratically elected local government councils. The result is that today council chairmen can be removed from office either by the governors, the state assemblies or even the legislative arm of their councils. They can also be sacked by reducing their tenure to one year.
In the present dispensation, not less than 12 council chairmen have either been suspended or sacked. Many are being threatened with impeachment across the country. The reasons for their removal range from mere fracas and internal wrangling in their councils to absence from their party’s activities. Some have been removed on trumped-up allegations while others were sacked without explanation.
In Benue State, Hon Terlumun Akpaku of Kwande Local Government and his Gboko counterpart, Hon Simeon Abua Yajir have been suspended as well as Hon Tele Ogunjobi of Ijebu North in Ogun State. In Kwara State, the Ilorin East chairman, Hon Usman Bibire Ajape and his Kontagora counterpart in Niger State, Abdulhamid El-Waziri, have both been removed. In Edo State, Hon Crosby Eribo of Egor Council was first suspended by the state assembly before he was booted out by the election tribunal.
Those having impeachment notices hanging on their neck include Dr Mike Ehima of Oredo Council (Edo), Chief Askia Ogieh of Isoko South Council (Delta State), Hon Goddy Kanu (Umuahia South) and Princewill Ukaegbu (Umuahia North) both in Abia State.
Others are Anthony Agbazuere (Isiala Ngwa North) and Glory Okechukwu Kanu (Ukwa East) also in Abia State.
We, members of the Local Government Study Network and other fair-minded Nigerians, are calling on the National Assembly Joint Committee on Constitution Review (JCCR) to ensure that elected council chairmen are protected from arbitrary removal from office. Punishment for any chairman should be in consonance with the law and not at the whim of the state governors, members of state assemblies or the legislative arm of the councils.
• Jeff Nkwocha
Local Government Study Network