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Group Condemns Governor Okorocha’s Takeover of LGs

okorochaA pro-Democracy Non-governmental organization – Human Rights Writers

Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described as an outrageous illegality the decision by Mr. Rochas Okorocha the Imo State governor to appoint members of the Imo State House of Assembly as Local Council administrators and has therefore called on the organized civil society community in Nigeria to protest against this constitutional violation.              

 The group has also called on all well-meaning Democrats to speak out against this ‘daylight criminality’ against the constitutional principle of separation of powers between the tiers of government as contemplated by the Imo State governor who has announced his ill-advised decision to send his surrogates and bootlickers masquerading as Imo legislators to head the Local government areas in the State which amounts to a flagrant and an unmitigated breach of section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended ).     

 Besides the Rights group has commissioned a team of constitutional experts to meticulously analyzed these inherent constitutional breaches in this illegality of appointing law makers from the Imo State House of Assembly to the local councils as Heads so that the body will comprehensively approach President Muhammadu Buhari and the National hierarchy of the major political parties in the countries to ask them to prevail on the Imo State governor   to reverse this decision  which is tantamount to a violent rape of democracy and constitutionalism.  

In a Media Statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said: “The persistent breach of the section of the Nigerian Constitution by governors who have shown penchant for destroying the democratic foundation of Local Government council administration in the country is a serious cause for worry”.  

“The collapse of democracy at the local level brought about by the total emasculation of the powers of the Local councils by virtually all the governors from across Nigeria   is the cause of rural poverty that has kept over 60 percent of Nigerians in absolute poverty.

“This is because the local economy of these local government areas has all but been destroyed following the illegal and unconstitutional takeover of the administration of these local government areas by the state governors who now call the shots.

“These governors have positioned their surrogates to take charge of the statutory allocations meant for the development of the rural communities from the federally redistributed fiscal resources from the Federation Account of Nigeria in Abuja”.  

HURIWA which expressed consternation at the silence of major stakeholders whilst this illegality is about to be actualized and the constitutional powers of the Local Government Councils eroded in Imo State had further reasoned that if this bad antecedent is allowed then Nigeria can as well kiss goodbye to the constitutional principle of separation of powers.      

The group averred thus: “The Nigerian Constitution in section 7. (1)  provides thus; “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall, subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils”.

The constitution further supported democratic aspirations of the rural people to participate in the governance of their local council when in the same section in subsection (2) the law prescribes thus:

“The person authorized by law to prescribe the area over which a local government council may exercise& authority shall; define such area as clearly practicable; and ensure, to the extent to which it may reasonably justifiable,  that in defining such area regard is paid to:-the common interest of the community in the area, traditional  association of the community…” 

As a practical panacea to stop these flagrant emasculate on by state governors of the powers of the local government councils, the Rights group has advocated the abolition of section 308 (1) of the constitution which provides immunity from prosecution of governors whilst in office so aggrieved citizens can sue the governor in his personal capacity to sanction him legally for these breaches.       

 HURIWA said: “What stops the National Assembly from discarding this immunity clause in section 308 (1) which gives the governors the wrong impression that they are above the law? Are we seriously committed to take development and transformational changes to our collapsed local government councils by ensuring that the democratization of these tiers of government isn’t impeded by state governors? 

“Are we happy that over 80 percent of our populations are too poor because the enabling environment for rural economic advancement has been shut through the adversarial looting of funds meant for local councils by State governors?”

Emmanuel Onwubiko

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