Senate asks FG not to fund LGAs run by caretaker committees

THE Senate has asked the Federal Government to stop statutory allocations to the local government councils, whose chief executives and councillors are not democratically elected.

The Senate made the resolution on Friday, December 1, against the backdrop of a motion by the Senate Minority Leader Senator Abba Moro, on the ‘Urgent need to halt the erosion of democracy: The dissolution of elected Councils in Benue State’.

The lawmaker, who is representing Benue South Senatorial District, condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected local government councils in his state.

Moro, in his motion, noted that placing caretaker committees to replace elected councils was an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

According to him, section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees a system of local government by democratically elected councils.

He emphasised that each state’s constitutional duty was to uphold the presence of local government councils as mandated by law, acknowledging the existence of court rulings that restrained the Benue governor, the House of Assembly, and their representatives from interfering with the tenure of the elected councils.

He said: “The Senate is aware that neither the governor nor the Government of Benue State have appealed the judgments and it is against the grain of the rule of law.” 

In his submission, Senator Victor Umeh, representing Anambra Senatorial district, while seconding the motion, lamented that the issue has continued to undermine the local government system in Nigeria.

Reacting to the motion, other lawmakers broadened the scope of the motion by expanding the sanctions to encompass other states in the country that had installed unelected council executives.

The legislators contended that replacing elected councils with Caretaker Committees is irregular, undemocratic, and violates the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The senate urged the governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia, to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by reviewing the constitution of caretaker committees and reinstate the elected councils.

During his remarks, Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) cited a Supreme Court ruling stating that state governors lack the authority to dissolve elected local government officials.

He stated that about 16 state governors are currently running their LGAs with caretaker committees.

In his contribution, the Chief Whip of the Senate,  Senator Ali Ndume, also supported the motion, condemning the use of caretaker as administrators of local government councils.

Ndume, urged the Senate to ask the Minister of Finance not to release funds to local government areas run by caretaker committees




    Also, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari (Oyo North) added that the Electoral Act should be amended to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct local government elections.

    The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who chaired the plenary, modified Buhari’s proposal, proposing the establishment of the National Electoral Commission for local governments to reduce the governors’ overlapping influence on council elections.

    Akpabio, thereafter, put the motion to vote and the lawmakers voted in its support.

    Akpabio directed the clerk of the senate to communicate the resolution to the appropriate authorities.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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