You misconstrued Appeal Court’s judgment, Sacked Chairmen tell Oyo Assembly

The sacked Chairmen of local government councils in Oyo State have described a resolution by the state house of Assembly asking them to hand over all properties in their possession as misconstruing last week’s Appeal Court judgment by Justice Haruna Tsammani.

The Court of Appeal, Ibadan division, had last Wednesday, set aside the High Court judgment restraining the Oyo state governor from sacking local government councils in the state.

Justice Haruna Tsammani premised his judgment on that the sacked local government Chairmen failed to show verifiable facts of the plan by the Oyo state governor to dissolve the councils.

In a letter addressed to the Speaker by the state Assembly, dated July 17, 2020, the sacked Chairman, through their solicitor, I. B. Olayinka, held that the state Assembly arrived at its resolution thinking that the Appeal court affirmed their sack by the Oyo state governor.

They argued that the Appeal court never upheld the dissolution of the councils but ruled that the case for which the sacked local government Chairmen got a May 6 High court judgment was speculative.

To this end, the sacked Chairmen noted that Justice Tsammani in giving the Appeal Court judgment made no pronouncement validating their removal by the Oyo state governor.

Olayinka in the letter held that his clients were still the democratically elected local government Chairmen, describing as absurd and illegal the House of Assembly asking his clients to surrender the attachments to their office.

Sections of the letter, made available to Nigerian Tribune, read, “Our clients just brought to our notice your resolution and directive that all properties of the Oyo State Government in possession of the democratically elected local government chairmen in Oyo State be returned in view of the judgment of the court of appeal delivered on 15th July 2020 in the above-stated suit.

‘We believe the resolution and directive are based on the misconstruction of the purport of the said judgment, this is more pronounced when we look at the opening paragraph of the resolution which states that the court of appeal affirmed the unlawful sack of the chairmen by the Governor of Oyo State.

“You will recall that suit I/347/2019 which culminated in the above appeal was decided on 6th May 2019 before the current administration came to be while the directives of the Governor sacking the local government chairmen was made on 29th May 2019 after the judgment had been delivered.

“Thus the suit had nothing whatsoever to do with the unlawful removal of the local government chairmen made on 29th May 2019.

‘The appeal filed by the Oyo State Government against the judgment of the Oyo State High Court which restrained the Governor from removing democratically elected chairmen and which the court of appeal by its judgment only allowed the appeal on the ground that our clients’ case was speculative and the high court lacked jurisdiction to have entertained the case.

“The court of appeal never upheld, ratified or declared the dissolution of the councils (which was done after the judgment of the high court which was subject of the appeal) as legal, valid or lawful.

“It is pertinent to reiterate that since our clients are the democratically elected Local Government Chairmen of the councils and their election have not been nullified by any competent court of law or tribunal and their tenure has not lapsed, any purported dissolution of the councils by the Governor would be unlawful as the Supreme Court in the case of GOVERNOR FAYEMI & ORS v. OLUBUNMO & 13 ORS (APPEAL NO: SC. 120/2013) has unequivocally stated that the Governor of a state lacks the power to dissolve democratically elected Local Government Chairmen.

“We wish to state that in the eyes of the law our clients are still the democratically elected Local Government Chairmen, it would be absurd and illegal to rely on the unlawful dissolution of the Local Government Council by the Governor or the judgment of the court of appeal that has nothing to do with the unlawful dissolution made by the Governor and did not validate the unlawful dissolution of the council by the Governor to direct our clients to surrender the attachments to their office.

“We therefore humbly advise you and other members of the House of Assembly to apply for the judgment of the court appeal, digest it thoroughly so as to avoid running afoul of the law.”

 

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