The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has challenged the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over his order for the disbandment of local government caretaker committees in Oyo State.
Mr Malami in a letter addressed to the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Oyewo Oyelowo, also directed the state government to recall the elected council officials sacked by Governor Seyi Makinde in May last year.
The sacked officials were elected on May 12, 2018, in local government elections conducted under the administration of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
A few hours after he took over from Ajimobi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ordered the chairmen to hand over to the most senior career officers in their councils.
The sacked chairmen have since taken the matter to court.
Reacting to the directive to reinstate the officials, the PDP in Oyo State urged the caretaker committees to disregard the order.
The party described the order as unexpected of the number one legal officer of the Federation.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Akeem Olatunji, the PDP said the Constitution did not empower the President or his agents to withhold funds due to a federating unit or even the National Judicial Council.
“Rather than poke nose into the internal affairs of Oyo State, Mr Abubakar Malami should be more concerned about Federal Government’s various disregard of judiciary pronouncements and lack of respect for rule of law.
“Nigeria as a federation is governed by constitution not by a decree fiat and it’s not anybody’s fault that the drafters of Nigerian Constitution put the control, legislation and supervision of the local governments under the purview of the State governments through the various State House of Assemblies.
“What the present Attorney-General of the Federation, Malam Abubakar Malami, and his APC cohorts are trying to achieve is purely 2023 political agenda similar to attempt by former Attorney-General, Mr Akin Olujimi, SAN, to stop Federal allocations meant for Lagos State through executive fiat.
“I want to reiterate that nowhere in the 1999 Constitution is the President or his agents given the power to withhold funds due to States or Local Government Councils or even the National Judicial Council by virtue of the provision of Section 162 subsection (9) thereof. In other words, the President has no supervisory power over the state and the local government councils.
“Nigeria as a country is practising federalism, not a unitary system of government, hence the needs for separation of power and avoid ridiculous action that can jeopardize the image of Nigeria within the comity of Nations.
“Furthermore, the Supreme Court judgement delivered by Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais, CJN, on 10th of December 2004 stated clearly that pursuant to section 162 (5) of the Constitution; if the President or any of his agents have any grievances or whatsoever with any tier of government, he should go to court.
“Oyo State PDP as the ruling party is advising APC in Oyo State to look for their saviour elsewhere as Mr Abubakar Malami is not constitutional empowered to assist them in foisting illegality on the good people of Oyo State at the grassroots level.
“Hence, the Caretaker Chairmen across the 33 Local Councils and 35 LCDAs are enjoined to face the herculean task before them and disregard the former illegal chairmen who are merely seeking attention.”