The Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has approached the Federal High Court, Osogbo to compel the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola and the state’s Accountant-General to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and “state and render account of all remittances from the Federations Account to each of Osun State’s 30 local governments and area office for the accounting period.”
Nigerian Tribune reports that the claimants, which comprised the party, Conference of Unpaid Former Local Government Political Functionaries in Osun State and candidates of the PDP for local government elections, in a suit with number FHC/OS/CS/6/2014, asked the state governor and his “self-appointed local government helmsmen and the state Accountant-General to account for the whereabouts of the statutory allocations received from the federation accounts running into hundreds of billions of Naira between January 2011 to date.”
The party prayed for an order of the court directing the 31 executive secretaries appointed by Aregbesola to oversee the local governments to tender account for all funds, allocations and dues paid or remitted to their respective local governments from January 2011 to December 2013.
According to a copy of the originating summons made available to Sunday Tribune, the claimants also prayed the court to determine if it was lawful for Aregbesola to appoint executive secretaries, which were also joined in the suit, in place of duly elected local government functionaries as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended), adding that the court should also among others, determine if it was lawful for Aregbesola’s appointees at the local governments to exercise powers, functions and prerogative of elected local government chairmen as provided under Sections 1(2) and 7 of the constitution.
The summon also prayed the court to declare it unlawful and unconstitutional for the finance minister and state Accountant-General to remit funds meant to be released to democratically-elected local government chairmen to the unelected chairmen, whom the party described as “a body of unelected and arbitrarily-appointed surrogates, agents and privies of Aregbesola.”
Arguing the claimants’ case recently, Chief S.L. Ojo-Williams, leading Chief Wole Olukanni obtained an order to serve the minister of finance in Abuja, which was out of the court’s jurisdiction, in Abuja while the governor, the Accountant-General and the caretaker chairmen in all 33 local governments were to be served personally.
Meanwhie, the case has been adjourned till 19 May, 2014 for further hearing.