Niger Assembly Dares Court Ruling, Urges Gov Sani Bello To Sack LG Executives

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Governor Sani Bello of Niger State
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
The Niger State House of Assembly has passed a motion urging the state governor to dissolve all the elected councils’ executives two years into their administration.
The resolution followed debate at plenary on Tuesday which was sparked off by a recent High Court verdict which ruled that the state government had no right to reduce the tenure of elected local government councils officials from three years to two years.
The state government had at inception tinkered with the idea to reduce the tenure of local government Chairmen and got the state legislature to reduce the tenure of elected local government councils officials from the constitutional three years to two.
But some aggrieved councillors in concert with some registered political parties in the state had last November approached the High Court in New Bussa which ruled in their favour.
The state legislature ostensibly acting the script of the executive arm brought the matter up for deliberations leading to the house resolution.
The Assembly raised serious acts of breaches against the local government councils bordering on non performance and other sundry allegations against the elected councils’ officials to justify their action.
It would be recalled that the High Court in New Bussa had about fortnight ago only ruled against Niger state government and the State House of Assembly in the suit filed by the Social Democratic Party, (SDP) and 14 other registered political parties along with five Councilors who as plaintiffs had prayed the court to stop the state government from tempering with the three years tenure of local government Chairmen in the state.

The court had ruled that the state government and the state legislature in particular lacked the powers to amend the local government (amendment ) law 2016 of the state published as Niger Legal Notice No1 as it did to which Governor Abubakar Sani Bello appended his signature to make it law.

At plenary on Tuesday when the Assembly received reports from the Chairman, House Committee on Local Governments, Hon. Abdulmalik Muhammad Kabir, the House, after deliberations on the report, directed the Governor to immediately implement the House’s resolutions to dissolve all the elected officials of the 25 councils in the state and put in motion moderlities fo conducting fresh elections for local government councils within 90 days.

The motion gained currency and was seconded by Hon. John Paul Bahago representing Munya constituency.

The House consequently directed all the council Chairmen to handover the affairs of their respective councils to the Director of Personnel Management,(DPM).

The law makers were unanimous that the Chairmen had performed below expectations especially in their failure to discharged their statutory duties and functions under the Niger state law, 2001 particularly as it relates to the welfare and wellbeing of the people of their areas of authorities’.

The lawmakers accused the councils’ executives of gross failure to hold meetings and sittings as required under Section 38, subsection (1) of the state Local Government Law, 2001.

The House Committee on Local Governments reported that during the committee’s oversight visits to the various councils, none of the 25 Local Government Councils’ legislature had ever sat for up to 30 times in their two years tenure as apposed to the required 90 times per session.

The House was told that the highest number of sitting recorded from the local government councils in Niger state was 47 times in two years.

The House Committee also accused most of the councils executives for awarding contracts without due process as many of the contracts awarded were without approvals of the legislative council as enshrined under Section 75 subsection (1) of the state local government law 2001.

The report also indicted most of the Councils’ Chairmen of absentism from their office and acting as if they were sole administrators.

But action of the House has attracted the ire of a cross sections of the citizens of the state including civil society organizations, (CSOs) who have been reacting sharply against the stance of the state lawmakers.

A mass rally organised by a coalition of about 14 CSOs in the state capital rose stoutly against the state lawmakers and cautioned the state governor against dissolving the council executives as recommended by the lawmakers.

The warning from the CSOs appeared to have sunk well as the state governor Wednesday issued a statement saying the government had not dissolve the elected councils executives yet.

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