The last is yet to be heard on the inauguration of Caretaker Committees for the 17 local government areas in Enugu State as Counsel to the 18 All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmanship aspirants in the State, Barr. George Ogara has described the action as a brazen illegality.
Ogara said this while briefing journalists in Enugu on Sunday, Daily Post reports.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had last Thursday at Enugu Government House inaugurated the Caretaker Chairmen and Deputies for each of 17 local governments in the State.
During the inauguration, Governor Ugwuanyi announced that the Caretaker Chairmen would conduct the swearing-in of the councilors on Monday January 11 at the headquarters of the various councils.
But, Ogara said the inauguration of Caretaker Committees for the councils, usurped a case pending before the Enugu State High Court and violated the constitution of Nigeria, which Governor Ugwuanyi swore to uphold during his inauguration on May 29 last year.
He said the Chief Judge of the State was aware of the case-E/362/2015 and assigned it to His Lordship, Justice Odugu.
“The matter was filed on 8th December 2015, wherein the Court ordered that motion on notice for interlocutory injunction be served on the defendants, so that they will not appoint caretaker pending the hearing of the main case on December 15, but because of memorial service for late Justice Achi Kanu, the case could not hold on that day and it was adjourned to January 27 for the motion on notice.
“But three days ago, on the 6th of January to be precise, the defendants in that matter by 8.pm inaugurated two members each for the 17 councils in Enugu State. Aside the fact that this is usurpation of case before the Court, it is sheer violation of the constitution”, Ogara said.
The APC lawyer maintained that the defendants resorted to self help, pointing out that the Governor has not complied with any law, especially Enugu State Local Government Law, which allows caretaker to be appointed for the councils in time of emergency.
Ogara noted that there was no state of emergency in Enugu State now and even if there as, the law clearly stated that 15 members should be appointed for each local government and not two.
The APC lawyer equally faulted the directive of the Governor that the caretaker chairmen should inaugurate the remaining members in their respective councils, saying the two members were not elected and therefore lack the powers to appoint other members.
He further noted that some of the caretaker chairmen appointed had completed two terms as elected chairmen as allowed by law, and now the Governor had given them a third term in contravention of the law.
However, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Enugu State, Chief Milletus Eze said the lawyer was ignorant of the laws of Enugu State and the constitution of Nigeria.
Eze also said the APC lawyer did not know the meaning of emergency.
“Emergency defies specific definition. The Governor called a meeting of stakeholders and told them that the budgetary provision made for the conduct of the election in the budget was inadequate to conduct the election. If there is no money, you cannot conduct election. You cannot conduct election and fail.
“Secondly, we have been doing biometric verification to ascertain the number of people working in the local government system. I can tell you that since the exerciser started, many discoveries have been made. We have discovered a lot of ghost workers and money has been recovered. This thing cannot continue. Unless we conclude biometrics, we cannot conduct election”, Eze said.
The Chief Law Officer, who is an Associate member of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators maintained that when funds in the budget is inadequate to conduct election, the government cannot borrow money for election as it lacks powers to do so.
Eze said it was misleading for the APC lawyer to say that government appointed two members for the caretaker, even when the Governor made it clear that the others would be appointed in due course.
“He doesn’t know about the constitution. The Constitution created the Local Governments but gave the State the powers to run it. He doesn’t know about local government system. Saying the Chief Judge knows about the case is not here nor there. We are aware of the case. Those who filed the case lack the locus. The Legal Adviser of APC filed an affidavit, saying they are not aware of the case.
“So, how can a lawyer be representing people who did not authorize him to represent them?” The AG queried.
On the re-appointment of two former council chairmen who have served two tenures as allowed by law, Eze explained that the transition committee had nothing to do with a normal system, but became necessary as a result of emergency.