Former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association , NBA, Mr. Obafemi Adewale has said that the last week’s Supreme Court judgment on the dissolution in 2010 of democratically elected council officials in Ekiti State is an affirmation of the illegality of caretaker committee or other appointed administrative body to run Local Government administration.
Adewale, who said the use of caretaker committee was prevalent among many states of the federation, described such as ultra vires to the spirit of the Constitution.
The former NBA scribe, who was counsel to the dissolved council officials, spoke in reaction to the judgment, saying that any law enacted by any state House of Assembly that gave power to a state Governor to appoint caretaker committee is at variance with the provision of the 1999 constitution as amended in section seven thereof.
Adewale stressed that by the Supreme Court verdict last Friday, “no governor has the power under the Constitution to dissolve democratically elected local government officials and replace them with handpicked apologists otherwise called loyalists in the name of local government caretaker committee”.
The Supreme Court had last Friday reversed the October 29, 2010 dissolution by former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi of elected council officials.
Adewale, also a former Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice said any law operating in any state in Nigeria granting power to the governor to appoint people into local governments by fiat has become a nullity.
He urged state governors still promoting appointed loyalists in the councils to, as of necessity, “take immediate steps to ensure that elected local government structures are put in place”.
“The assertive judgment of the Nigeria’s highest court will automatically stop the impunity demonstrated by many state governors who upon assumption of office dissolve democratically elected local government officials, just because they are not from the governor’s political party.
The Ex NBA scribe affirmed that the Supreme Court verdict implies that using caretaker committee or arbitrarily dissolving elected Council officials is a fundamental breach of the Constitution on the part of governors who sworn to uphold the tenets of the law and such is punishable as provided for by the same Constitution.
He described the verdict as another giant stride in the development, entrenchment and deepening of participatory democracy in Nigeria.