Local government chairmen under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who were sacked by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, on Monday made their threat real by resuming in their offices.
Governor Makinde, shortly after his inauguration on May 29 last year, sacked the chairmen and asked them to hand over to the most senior career officer in their councils.
The chairmen were elected on May 12, 2018 during the local government election conducted by former Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
The sacked chairmen, however, at the weekend, threatened to resume in their offices yesterday after about eight months of legal battle with the state government.
Some of the sacked chairmen yesterday made their threat to bear by resuming in their offices as vowed.
Information gathered from the 33 local governments and 35 local council development areas (LCDAs) showed that the majority of the chairmen resumed in their offices on Monday.
However, there were pockets of violence in Ibadan South East and Ibadan North East councils where some hoodlums reportedly hijacked the situation.
Gunshots were heard at Ibadan South East following an attempt by some thugs to prevent the sacked chairmen from gaining entrance into the council office.
In most of the councils where the chairmen reportedly resumed, the gates to the council secretariat and offices were forcefully opened, to enable the chairmen and councillors gain access to the offices.
In Oluyole Local Government, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshiloye, the chairman of Association of Local Governments of (ALGON), who is also the council chairman, resumed in office and held a prayer session with some of his followers.
After the skirmishes in Ibadan South East Local Government, the Chairman, Mr. Bimbo Omiyale and his followers resumed in office.
Reports from Ibadan East LCDA, Ogbomoso Central LCDA, Iseyin Local Government, Itesiwaju Local Government and Ibarapa Central also indicated that the sacked chairmen in these councils resumed in their Offices by forcing the door open.
ALGON Chairman Abass-Aleshiloye had said that he and his members were ready to cooperate with Governor Makinde to move the state forward at the grassroots.
Abass-Aleshiloye, who addressed reporters at the ALGON office in Ibadan yesterday, said he and his members had employed all peaceful and legal options to reclaim their mandates eight months after they were sacked.
He added that their resolve to resume in their offices was premised on the Supreme Court judgment, which declared that no governor had a right to unjustly sack elected chairmen.
Abass-Aleshiloye, who urged local government workers to resume in their offices, advised citizens to remain law-abiding and not to panic.
He alleged that efforts by the sacked chairmen to meet the governor had met a brick wall.
The ALGON chairman said that it was unfortunate that it was only Governor Makinde that remained adamant in the return of the local government chairmen to office, stressing that local government bosses, who were illegally sacked in Ogun, Ekiti and Kwara states, had been returned.
He said: “We have resumed, although NULGE (local government worker) members did not come today. We talked to the people, we held a prayer and we urged people to be law-abiding. Till the time I left, there was no problem.
“But, we just heard that there were some hoodlums going around to unleash violence on the people. But, we assure people that we will be peaceful.
“I am still compiling the report, we have majority of our people that resumed today, but there are some elements that want to attack us. We have instances in Ekiti, Kwara and Ogun states where the sacked chairmen have been returned. Why will Oyo State be different?
“This is a self-inflicted pain on the people of Oyo State. For almost eight months, we have not been in the office, we waited. We are law-abiding people. Governor Makinde has never called us. We must finish our tenure. We have spent one year in office before he came, we must finish our tenure.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Shina Olukolu, had said the command would not fail in its duty to protect the lives and property of citizens through the enforcement of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Police Acts and Regulations.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Oyo State Police Command, Fadeyi Olugbenga, in a statement on Monday, said, “The Commissioner of Police wishes to appeal to all the stakeholders, leaders and the entire peace-loving citizens of Oyo State to be circumspect in their efforts at managing their respective demands on the administration of the local government councils and the LCDAs and prevent unpalatable consequences.”
Asked what could have accounted for the AGF’s interest and directive to Oyo State on the reinstatement of the sacked local government chairmen in the state, the Chief Press Secretary to the state Governor, Taiwo Adisa, said, “Oyo is not violating the constitution in any way. The councils are being managed in accordance with the local government law of Oyo State. Only the AGF knows why he is focusing on Oyo.”
Meanwhile, the state government said on Monday that it would bring the full weight of the law to bear in view of the violent takeover of some councils.
The government in a statement by the Special Adviser on Strategy and Political Matters to the Governor, Babatunde Oduyoye, said the action of the sacked chairmen amounted to criminality and unwarranted provocation.
The statement read in part, “”We have received reports of vandalisation of government property. We have received reports of wanton destruction of doors, windows, and others, and I can tell you that the governor will not sit down and watch while some people decide to be lawless. This is criminal and the government will pursue it to a logical conclusion.”
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