The 17 suspended local government chairmen in Plateau on Friday, said Governor Caleb Mutfuwang and the state House of Assembly do not have the legitimate power to suspend them, stressing that they are still the legal chairmen of their respective councils.
The chairmen disclosed this in a press conference in Jos following a press release by the special assistant to the governor, Gyang Bere, on Thursday, suspending the chairmen over alleged financial misappropriation.
The announcement of the suspension of the embattled chairmen was first issued by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Nuhu Abok, at the preliminary on Thursday.
Some hours after, the state governor, Barrister Caleb Mutfwang, in a statement, corroborated the resolution of the House, maintaining that the recommendation for the suspension was based on the chairmen’s inability to make available records of their income and expenditure to the House since they assumed office.
But in a reaction to the position of the governor, the chairmen said neither the governor nor the lawmakers had constitutional power to suspend them.
Alex Naantuam, ALGON chairman, said, “In any event, the power to remove the chairmen for any gross misconduct does not reside with the House of Assembly or the governor. The procedure for removing a local government chairman is explicitly set out in Section 37 of the local government council law. Just like the governor, who cannot be suspended from office because he is the chief executive of the state, so it is with the chairmen of local government councils.
“Before the purported suspension, the 17 local government chairmen and the legislative councils had approached the court, invoking its interpretative jurisdiction to determine, among others, whether the governor has the power to terminate, suspend, truncate, or disturb their tenure in light of Section 7 of the constitution, which states that ‘the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed.’
“Pursuant to the said suit, we filed a motion for interlocutory injunction seeking the court’s order of interlocutory injunction restraining the governor, either by himself or his privies, from disturbing, disputing, terminating, suspending, or truncating the tenure of the local government chairmen and the legislative council. The said motion was served on the Governor on June 1, 2023, at 12:43 p.m.
“The manifest implication of the above is that, having had notice of the said motion, the governor was under an obligation by law to await the decision of the court on the said motion on notice for interlocutory injunction. Instead, the governor poked his hand into the eye of the law. He resorted to self-help.
“He treated the court process with disdain and went ahead to act in spite of it. Since 1988, the Supreme Court in Saidu Garba v. Federal Civil Service Commission and ANOR has said that once parties submit their grievances to court, resorting to self-help is outlawed.”
The chairmen further insists that they remained the chairmen of their respective LGAs pending the determination of the suit against the action of the governor and the House, stressing that they are ready to defend allegations levelled against them.
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