Oyo State Government has suspended the planned local government elections slated for February 11 following a court injunction obtained by 15 village heads in Oyo town.
This was disclosed by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Seun Abimbola while addressing journalist on Tuesday in company of the State Commissioner for Information and Culture, Toye Arulogun, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Bimbo Kolade and the Special Advicer to the governor on communication and strategy, Yomi Layinka.
A Federal High Court judge in Abuja, Justice John Tsoho, ordered the Oyo State Independent Election Commission (OYSIEC) not to proceed with its plan to conduct local government election slated for February 11.
The judge also directed the Accountant General of the Federation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministry of Finance to withhold monthly allocation to the 33 local government councils in the state.
The orders were made in Abuja on Friday, January 20, following a motion ex-parte filed in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/11/2017 on behalf of 15 Baales from Oyo Federal Constituency by the lawyer, Ahmed Raji SAN, pursuant to the creation of 35 local council development authorities (LCDAs) in the state.
The creation of the LCDAs by the state government last year was said to have tampered with the boundaries of the 33 existing local government areas recognised in the 1999 Constitution.
The 15 village heads in some communities, which were hitherto under Oyo Federal Constituency, got ceded to local government areas which fall within the boundary of Oyo North Senatorial district.
The four local government councils in Oyo Federal Constituency are within Oyo Central Senatorial district.
The court also directed that monthly allocation to the 33 councils should be lodged in an interest-yielding account to prevent the state government from using same to fund the LCDAs as prayed by the plaintiffs.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was also restrained from supporting OYSIEC in the conduct of the election through the release of voter register or any other material.
Abimbola explained that the state government set up a petition and review committee which was headed by him when the government received petitions and complained from some communities that their land has been ceded or encroached upon by another communities with the creation of the LCDAs.
“The peace loving governor after receiving all this petitions set up the committee to look into it, and different aggrieved party, including the 15 village heads who appeared in person before the committee, but we were shock when we learnt that they have obtain a court injunction without waiting for the resolution of the committee.
“We were served with the court injunction just yesterday by the federal high court at our liaison office in Abuja.” he said
The Commissioner for Justice said as a law abiding government, they will abide with the court order and suspend the conduct of the election indefinitely, promising that the order will be contested vigorously in the court.
He urge the resident and the political parties in the state to remain calm and uphold peace in the state.
Similarly, Arulogun dispel the rumour making rounds that the state government was behind the court injunction.
He said:” The court order stopping the conduct of the election is not government orchestrated or induced. If the state government does not want to conduct election, he will not release funds for OYSIEC or set date for the election”.
Also, Kolade said the creation of the LCDAs has not been cancelled, noting that it was only the election into the council areas that has been suspended.
He said the creation of the LCDA areas was the request by the people and not the state government.
The Commissioner promised that once the order has been vacated, the election will be conducted immediately.