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24 August 2005

24 August, 2005 Lagos NCP Press Conference

 

HOLD ELECTIONS NOW FOR THE 20 LISTED LAGOS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

 

On Thursday 28th July 2005, the Lagos State Government announced that it was reverting to the 20 old constitutionally recognised local councils from 57 new local councils it purportedly created in 2002. Announcing the reversal, Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Dele Alake at a news conference said that the state House of Assembly had passed a bill to re-establish the former 20 councils and to rename the so called 37 new councils as Local Council Development Areas.

 

To us in NCP, the belated decision of both the Lagos State Government and Federal Government to revert to old 20 councils and to release the withheld money respectively was in compliance with the Supreme Court verdict of December 10, 2004 on the creation of the new councils by the Lagos State and not a political solution as a result of the so-called intervention of Prince Bola Ajibola Committee. We had in the past called on both parties to obey the judgement of the Supreme Court. Specifically, on Wednesday, February 9, 2005, we addressed a press conference where we called on both parties to comply with the rulings of the highest court of the land. For the avoidance of doubt, we reproduce the relevant parts of the said press conference.

 

We quote:

 

"OUR STANCE

 

We in the Lagos state NCP hereby call on the Federal Government to unconditionally release forthwith all the withheld allocations for local council in Lagos State. On the basis of the relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution and unambiguous pronouncement of the Supreme Court, the federal government has no any valid basis to continue to withhold the allocation meant for local councils in Lagos State even for a second. We consequently demand that the federal government stops all acts of subterfuge and diversions by creating baseless conditionalities before doing its duty under the law…..

 

That the Lagos State government immediately and fully restore, without any infraction or loss of asset, the structures of the 20 local governments listed in the schedule to the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This becomes necessary because of dubious but futile exercise recently carried out by the Lagos state House of Assembly when it decided to retain merely the names of these 20 listed local councils while stubbornly holding that their buccaneering and cannibalization through fragmentation into 57 local council entities stay" End of quote

 

However, we wish to note that despite the proclamation of the Lagos State government on the reversal to 20 old local councils, the structures of the so-called 57 new local councils are still intact. To the best of our knowledge, those "elected" chairmen and councillors on the basis of 57 scrapped local councils in March 27, 2004 farcical election conducted by the appendage of AD’s government called Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) are still in office. In addition, the officials of the so-called Local Council Development Areas are still harassing Lagosians through collection of all sort of levies and fees notwithstanding that they are no more local councils.

 

To have a true reversal to the old local councils, the Lagos state government must organise a fresh election on the basis of 20 constitutionally recognised local councils. Apart from the fact that the purported local council elections held in March 27, 2004 was boycotted by all political parties except the ruling party in the state, none of the "elected" chairmen and councillors on the basis of that "election" could claim to being elected representatives of any of the 20 constitutionally recognised local councils because their "elections" were based on the now scrapped 57 local councils.

 

For example, when the state government created the so-called new councils in 2002, the constitutionally recognised Ikeja local council was split into three namely; Ikeja, Onigbongbo and Ojodu local councils with three "elected" chairmen on the basis of March 27, 2004 "election". Now, that the state government had reverted to the constitutionally recognised Ikeja local council, who among the three "elected" chairmen is the current chairman. The truth of the matter is that none of them can said to be the current chairman of the recently re-established constitutionally recognised Ikeja local council because none has the mandate of all the people in that council. We further ask who is the chairman of Alimosho local council? Again, nobody could claim to be the chairman of Alimosho local council because when the "election" was held into local councils in March 27, 2004, nobody was elected into a council called Alimosho either by name and/or territorial boundary.

 

However, in response to the call for fresh election into the 20 constitutionally recognised local councils, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Dele Alake said that since Supreme Court had ruled in the case of local government creation that the March 27, 2004 "election" into the councils was valid, there is no basis for fresh election. This is far from the truth. The truth of the matter is that the Supreme Court refused to make any categorical pronouncement on the validity or otherwise of the "election" because, according to the court, the necessary parties ("elected" chairmen and councillors) that such pronouncement will affect are not parties in the case. Assuming (without conceding) that the Supreme Court actually pronounced valid "election" into the then 57 local councils, it is too elementary to know that such decision could no longer hold in view of Lagos state’s decision to revert to 20 constitutionally recognised local councils.

 

Meanwhile, to have a free and fair fresh election, the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) as presently constituted must be dissolved; as it is obvious they cannot be trusted to conduct a free and fair election. It was the same LASIEC led by the former Chief Justice of Lagos State, Justice Christopher Segun, who conducted "election" into the so-called 57 local councils despite the repeated warning by us and other political parties (except the ruling party in state) that such election will be a violation of 1999 constitution because the so-called 57 local councils are not recognised by the constitution. More importantly, it was the same LASIEC that organise a kangaroo referendum that preceded the purported creation of 57 local councils in 2002, where about "six million" Lagosians were said to have voted. Surprisingly, when the existences of the same local councils were being threatened not a single soul out of six million who purportedly demanded for their creation protested.

Now that the substantial amount of the withheld fund had been released to the Lagos State government, the people of Lagos should positively feel the impact of what the money is to be used for. To us in NCP, the money should be used for the payment of arrears of salary being owed the local government workers and teachers in the state, rehabilitation of dilapidated schools and roads, provisions of drugs and other necessary equipment in the hospitals, etc.

 

On the basis of the above, we in Lagos state NCP unequivocally demand as follows:

 

  • The unconditional and immediate dismantling of the contraption called "elected leadership" of the so-called 57 new local councils.

  •  

  • An immediate conduct of popular, democratic, constitutional, free and fair election into the 20 listed local councils in Lagos state in accordance with the relevant provision of the 1999 constitution and the Lagos State electoral law, especially on the basis of the judicial interpretation of that law by the Lagos state High Court.

  •  

  • That Lagosians in particular and Nigerians in general should henceforth refuse to pay taxes, tenement rates, fines, levies to the so-called Local Council Development Areas since they have no constitutional power to collect same.

  •  

  • Immediate dissolution of the LASIEC as presently constituted and constitution of new LASIEC to include representatives of political parties.

  •  

  • The withheld but now released fund should be judiciously used to uplift the standard of living of Lagosians.

  •  

    Segun Sango

    Chairman, NCP, Lagos State

     

    The August 25, edition of THE Guardian, Lagos, reported the NCP press conference as follows:

    57 Lagos councils still intact, NCP alleges

    By Bola Olajuwon

    LIKE a leech, controversy continues to stick to the recent reversal by the Lagos State government of its council structures to the old 20 format as the state chapter of the National Conscience Party (NCP) yesterday alleged that the new 57 local councils are still intact.

    According to the state chairman of NCP, Segun Sango, the "elected" chairmen and councillors on the basis of the scrapped 57 local councils in the March 27, 2004 election are still in office while their officials are harassing Lagosians through collection of all sort of levies and fees.

    To have a true reversal to the old 20 local councils, the party, at a media briefing yesterday in Lagos, urged the state government to organise fresh elections into the 20 constitutionally recognised local councils.

    Following the intervention of a committee of South-West elders led by the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ajibola, in the stalemate over the non-release of about N34 billion Lagos councils' funds by the Federal Government as a result of the creation of 37 additional councils, the Lagos State government on July 28, 2005, had announced that it was reverting to the old structures from those it created in 2002.

    Announcing the reversal, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Dele Alake, said that the state Assembly had passed a bill to re-establish the former 20 councils and to rename the 37 additionally new councils as Local Council Development Areas, which shall be funded by the state.

    However, the NCP asserted that despite the reversal, a fresh election must take place. This position was also canvassed by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

    NCP averred that apart from the fact that the state council elections were boycotted by the other political parties except the ruling Alliance for Democracy (AD), none of the "elected" chairmen and councillors on the basis of that election could claim to be elected representatives of any of the 20 councils since they were elected on the platform of the 57 scrapped councils.

    "For example, when the state government created the so-called new councils in 2002, the constitutionally recognised Ikeja Local Council was split into three namely; Ikeja, Onigbongbo and Ojodu local councils with three "elected" chairmen on the basis of March 27, 2004 'election.' Now, that the state government had reverted to the constitutionally recognised Ikeja Local Council, who among the three 'elected' chairmen is the current chairman?" Sango queried.

    "The truth of the matter," the party insisted, "is that none of them can claim to be the current chairman of the recently re-established, constitutionally recognised Ikeja Local Council because none has the mandate of all the people in the council."

    To have a free and fair fresh election, the NCP said the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) as presently constituted must be dissolved, saying that the body "cannot be trusted to conduct a free and fair election."

    Continuing, the NCP chief stressed that now that the substantial amount of the withheld fund had been released to the state government, the people of Lagos should positively feel the impact of what the money is to be used for.

    "To us in NCP, the money should be used for the payment of arrears of salary being owed the local councils workers and teachers in the state, rehabilitation of dilapidated schools and roads, provisions of drugs and other necessary equipment in the hospitals, etc," the party chairman insisted.

    Lagos State NCP also demand as follows:

  • the unconditional and immediate dismantling of the "elected leadership" of the 57 new local councils;

  • an immediate conduct of popular, democratic, constitutional, free and fair election into the 20 listed local councils in Lagos State in accordance with the relevant provision of the 1999 Constitution and the Lagos State electoral law, especially on the basis of the judicial interpretation of the law by the Lagos State High Court;

  • that Lagosians in particular and Nigerians in general should henceforth refuse to pay taxes, tenement rates, fines, levies to the so-called Local Council Development Areas since they have no constitutional power to collect same;

  • immediate dissolution of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) as presently constituted and constitution of new one to include representatives of political parties; and

  • the withheld but now released fund should be judiciously used to uplift the standard of living of Lagosians.

  •