Bello Defends Re-instatement Of Sacked Council Chairmen
THE Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has described the recall of 15 Local Government chairmen sacked by his predecessor, Idris Wada, as a move to promote the rule of law and to ensure that no one was victimised based on political belief.
Recall that in the twilight of Wada’s administration, the chairmen were banned from occupying their positions after defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on November 24, 2015, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The affected chairmen include that of Lokoja, Ogori-Magongo, Idah, Adavi, Ankpa, Okehi, Bassa, Yagba East, Yagba West and Okene, among others.
The travails of the council chairmen, started on December 9, 2014, when a Kogi State High Court, sitting in Koton Karfe, nullified the May 4, 2013 Council elections that produced them and their councilors.
The trial judge, Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye, in his judgment ordered the appellants (Chairmen) to hand over to the most senior directors in their local governments.
Omolaye-Ajileye held that the election, which produced the council bosses, conducted by the Kogi State Independent Electoral Commission (KOSIEC) were contrary to section 200(1) of 1999 Constitution as amended.
He stressed that the composition of KOSIEC at that period remained unconstitutional, illegal and void.
Omolaye-Ajileye held that the chairmen and their councilors were sacked strictly to promote the principle of fairness, independence and transparency as prescribed by the law.
But on Friday, October 23, 2015, the Court of Appeal in Abuja reinstated the sacked council chairmen. The judge, Justice Mustapha Mohammed held that the decision of the lower court was a judicial error.
He said the appeal brought by the appellants had merit. He therefore ordered the state government to immediately reinstate the sacked chairmen and their councilors.
“The Court has perused the substance of the matter and left without an option but to nullify the dissolution carried out by the governor.
Having considered the appeal urging this court to reinstate the 21 Local Government Chairmen and their Councilors from Kogi State back to their offices, the penal is obliged to do so. The Kogi State Government is hereby ordered to immediately, without delay, reinstate the appellants back to their jobs,’’ he said.
However, while carrying out the order of the court, Wada sacked 15 council bosses with the claim that they defected to a rival party, APC. He cited section 20(1) and section 36 (1)(d) of the state Local Government Law 2000 as amended to back the action.
He explained that they could no longer remain in office having decamped from the PDP that sponsored them. The affected chairmen, who defected to the APC during the grand finale of APC’s governorship campaign on November 18, 2015, said their action was prompted by Wada’s refusal to implement the decision of the Court of Appeal.