By Modupe Gbadeyanka
One of the political parties in Nigeria, Accord Party, has thrown its weight behind the decision of Governor Emeka Ihedioha to suspend officials of the local governments in Imo State, describing their election as unconstitutional.
The party also wants perpetrators of the January 6 2020 invasion of the 27 local government areas in the state prosecuted.
Chairman of the party in Imo State, Mr ThankGod Ibe, informed newsmen at a parley that the recent invasion of the council headquarters by suspended Chairmen and other officials and appointees of the immediate administration of Mr Rochas Okorocha was uncalled for, arguing that Governor Ihedioha acted within the law, by suspending the officials.
“We have taken time to study and review the unwholesome act of invading the Imo LGA Headquarters on 6th January, 2020 by agents of the immediate past governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and his son-in law, Uche Nwosu who purport as elected local government officials and appointees.
“We wish to reiterate that Accord filed a case (Suit No. HOW/613/2019) against the then government headed by Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
“We challenged the constitutionality and validity of the Local Government elections which the administration of Rochas Okorocha purportedly conducted on the 25th of August, 2018 before the expiration of its tenure. The grounds on which the suit is predicated include a ground, stating that the Independent State Electoral Commission (ISIEC), which purportedly conducted the election was not properly constituted according to law and another which alleges that there was actually no election held in accordance with the electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and failure to constitute an Election Petition Tribunal etc,” he said.
“We took this legal action on a major ground that ACCORD is the only party, apart from Rochas Okorocha’s party, the APC, which participated in what turned out to be a sham called election. We also wish to emphasize that the case was filed by ACCORD before the end of Rochas Okorocha’s administration and before the present administration of His Excellency Emeka Ihedioha was inaugurated, but government being at Law a continuum, the Ihedioha administration inherited the case as respondents.
“We also recognize the fact that while the substantive suit filed by ACCORD was pending, (and is still pending), certain developments took place with respect to Local Government administration in Imo State.
“There were upon assumption of office by Mr Emeka Ihedioha, conflicting Court judgements on the status of Local Government officers in the state,” he added.
“There was also a notice of allegations of serious misconducts bordering on high fraud and financial mismanagement against all the Local Government Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, Councilors and other political appointees. There was public outcry which jolted the Imo State House of Assembly to pass a resolution urging the Governor to act in accordance with the law.
“ACCORD is not unaware that the administration of local governments in Imo State is governed by the Imo State Local Government Law No. 15 of 2000 as amended by Law No. 28 of 2019 of the same name. We refer to this law (combined) as the Imo State Local Government Administration Law of 2000 (as amended in 2019).
“Under section 26A of this Law (as amended), the Governor is empowered to suspend a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Councilor or any other political appointee of a local government where (a.) there is a case of emergency; (b.) there is notice in writing of any allegation against the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Councilor or political appointee of any Local Government.
“Under section 4 (1) of the same law, “emergency” is defined to include “a situation where there are conflicting Court Judgements, Rulings and Court Orders or uncertain legal environment.” There were other situations included by the Law as “emergency” each of which the situation which existed in Imo State at this early period of the Ihedioha administration could aptly fit into.”
“Acting upon the above scenario, Imo people who spoke through their representatives in the State House of Assembly raised their voices in a resolution paving the way constitutionally for the Governor to suspend these officials and political appointees of the local governments. We are also aware that the Governor set up a Committee to look into the Notice of Misconduct and turn in their findings.
“We are also aware that the Committee set up to investigate the financial corrupt practices has already unearthed mind-bogging cases of abuse of office, misconduct and fraudulent financial practices against the suspended officials and appointees. The committee has turned in an interim report and asked for more time to conclude, pursuant to which the governor, by an instrument under his hand and pursuant to the same law as aforesaid, has extended for another six months the tenure of the Interim Management Committees of the Local Governments.
“It is against the above background that ACCORD supports every step being taken by the State Government and the security agencies to apprehend those that perpetrated the criminal actions of 6th January 2020 and bring them to account under the criminal laws of the state,” he stated further.
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