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Senate To FG: Stop Allocation of States Running LGs with Caretaker Committees

They condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected local government councils in some states across Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Senate has urged the federal government to withhold statutory allocation to Local Government (LG) councils whose chief executives and councilors were not democratically elected.

This was just as the abridged version of the fiscal document released by the Senate on Friday, revealed that the Ministry of Defence got the lion share of N1.27 trillion from the 2024 appropriation bill. A copy of the fiscal document was made available to THISDAY in Abuja by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator, Solomon Adeola.

The resolution of the red chamber to withhold statutory allocation to LGs whose CEOs were not democratically elected, was sequel to a motion by the Senate Minority Leader, who is representing Benue South Senatorial District, Senator Abba Moro.
Moro’s motion was titled, “Urgent need to halt the erosion of democracy: The dissolution of elected Councils in Benue State.”
The lawmakers in their various contributions, adjusted the scope of the motion by extending the sanctions to other states in the country that had put in place, unelected council executives.
They condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected local government councils in Benue and other states in Nigeria. The lawmakers urged the governor of Benue State to adhere to his oath of office by obeying the rule of law and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
They also sought to review the governors’ dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees. They specifically advised Governor Hyacinth Alia, a suspended Catholic priest, to reinstate the elected council executive forthwith.
Moro, had in his motion noted that placing caretaker committees to replace elected councilors was an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
He said Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees a system of local government by democratically elected councils.
He argued that the constitutional responsibility of every state was to ensure the existence of local government councils by law.
Moro, however said he was aware that there were subsisting court rulings that had prevented the Governor, the House of Assembly, their agents and privies from tampering with the tenure of the elected councils.
He said, “The Senate is aware that neither the Governor nor the Government of Benue State has appealed the judgments and it is against the grain of the rule of law.”
In his contribution, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, APC, Edo North, said the Supreme Court had pronounced that state governors  do not have power to dissolve elected local government officials.
He said he resisted pressure to dissolve elected officials of the local government when he was a governor. He, however said no fewer than 16 state governors in Nigeria are currently running their respective councils with caretaker committees.
In his contribution, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, (APC, Borno South) described as misnomer, a situation whereby 16 states in the country run their local governments through the caretaker system.
He emphasised that the best the Senate could do was to prevail on the Ministry of Finance, using its oversight powers to stop the release of funds to local government areas operating caretaker committee
He urged the Senate to prevail on the Minister of Finance not to release funds to any unelected local government officials.
Senator Abdulfatai Buhari (Oyo North) said the Electoral Act should be amended to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections.
Buhari’s suggestion was however amended by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who presided over the plenary. Akpabio, frowned at the establishment of multiple federal agencies but advocated the creation of the National Electoral Commission for Local Governments so that governors would no longer have overlapping influence on council polls

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