Senate to stop dissolution of elected councils, appointment of caretaker committees

Nigeria’s 10th Senate┬áhas resolved to stop the dissolution of elected councils and appointment of a caretaker committee in Benue and other states of Nigeria.

This latest development was contained in a prayer from Senator Morro, Abba Patrick (Benue South) in a motion he moved to that effect on the floor of the senate Friday, which was seconded by Senator Victor Umeh, (Anambra Central) and supported by Senators Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North), Ali Ndume, (Borno ), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) and Abdulfatai Buhari (Oyo North), among others.

Faulting the anomalies in some states of the federation, Umeh said that the appointment of a caretaker committee in councils was unconstitutional, even as he reminded the legislators that the Supreme Court had passed judgment against it. He also agreed with the entire senate that the motion for halting the caretaker committee system in Benue state be extended to other states of the federation.

While Senator Adams Oshiomhole noted with dismay that about 16 states in Nigeria are currently without democratically elected council officials, Hon Abdulfatai Buhari suggested amendment of the Electoral Act to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct local government elections.

But in his view, Senator Ali Ndume suggested that the anomalies be challenged in the court of competent jurisdiction, even as he urged the Senate to direct the Finance Minister to stop funding local governments without elected council officials.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio frowned at the establishment of multiple federal agencies but advocated the creation of the National Electoral Commission for Local Government so that governors would no longer have overbearing influence on council polls.

Noting with dismay that the dissolution of democratically elected councils in Benue State wasn’t erosion of democracy, the sponsor of the motion added that placing Caretaker Committees to replace Elected Councils is an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), even as he said that everyone is aware that Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees a system of local government by democratically elected councils.

Reminding the legislators that it is the constitutional responsibility of every state to ensure the existence of local government councils by law, Senator Abba Moro further added that there were subsisting court rulings directing the governor, the House of Assembly, their agents, and privies, among others not to tamper with the tenure of the elected councils, and

Still making his points, he said that the governor/Benue state government has not appealed the judgments and that it is against the gain of the rule of law, just as he condemned in its entirety, the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected local government councils in Benue and other states in Nigeria.

He therefore urged the Benue state governor to adhere to his oath of office to obey the rule of law and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he called for the review of the governor’s dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees and reinstating the elected council executive forthwith.