News The African Way

Nigeria: Katsina Dissolves Local Government Councils

By Muhammad Bello
Katsina (Nigeria) – Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, northwest Nigeria has dissolved all the 34 Local Government Councils in the state with immediate effect

All the affected Chairmen are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In a statement, Secretary to the State Government, Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa, says the dissolution is in line with the provision of Section 80 (a) of Katsina State Local Government Law of 2000, as amended.

The statement directs all Local Government Chairmen to immediately handover to Director of Admin and Finance in their respective Councils.

But in a reaction, Katsina State Chairman of PDP Alhaji Rabiu Bakori asked the LGA Chairmen to disregard the directive, explaining that Nigeria’s Constitution has made it categorically clear that there should be democratically elected local government chairmen in the state for a period of two to three years.

He pointed out that the governor lacks power to dissolve the council chairmen, noting that since the matter was in court, the governor should have waited for the verdict of the court.

The PDP chairman said based on those reasons the leadership of the party has totally disregarded the local government dissolution by Mr. Masari and directed the local government chairmen not to handover to anybody.

Alhaji Rabiu Gambo added that the actions of the governor was a total breach of the constitution which the governor swore to protect.

An earlier statement by Kastina PDP spokesman, Alhaji Salisu Aliyu Sukuntuni, reminds the governor that the constitution did not give him power to sack any elected official, adding that just as the governor was elected, the chairmen were duly elected.

“Section 7 of the Constitution states clearly that it does not recognize appointed chairmen,” Sukuntuni said.

“It only recognises elected chairmen. The chairmen were elected. When the election was to be conducted last September, the APC was asked to participate.

“Even for their sake, the fee for the forms for the various positions was reduced by half, but the party said it was not interested, and suddenly, you say you want to sack them.

House of Assembly Involvement
Katsina House of Assembly had on Wednesday demanded the immediate dissolution of the councils after adopting the report of its committee which investigated alleged diversion of Joint Local Government Account funds into ALGON account.

The Chairman of 18-member Committee, Alhaji Bello Danmusa, who presented the findings said the Committee had established the transfer of N7.5 billion from the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to ALGON account.

He said findings by the Committee indicated that the transfers was carried out through Union Bank Plc between January and December 2014 and between January and May 2015.

Danmusa said the committee has established that the action violated the provisions of sections 7 A and 7 B of the Joint Local Government Account Law CAP 69, Laws of Katsina State, 1991, as amended.

Section 7 A of the law stipulates that there shall be established a joint project account for the state and local governments for the purpose of carrying out joint projects.

“Section 7 B stipulates that for the purpose of carrying out joint state and local government projects, the committee shall direct for the deduction of funds at source to be paid into state and local government joint project account,’’ he said.

Freezing of Councils Account
Governor Masari had in a closed door meeting with bank managers instructed banks in the state to freeze the accounts of all 34 local government areas.

Reports say the decision was as a result of alleged fraudulent expenses by the councils, especially from the month of March 2015 till date, which the Governor said they must accounted for.

But on Friday, ALGON issued a 24-hour ultimatum to commercial banks operating in the state to unfreeze the Councils accounts or face legal action.

ALGON Chairman, Ibrahim Dankaba said the action of the banks are illegal, unconstitutional and a flagrant abuse of bank-customer relationship.

“In the light of the above, we demand for an explanation failure of which within 24 hours I shall not hesitate to take legal action against you if you fail to reverse your action within then,” he wrote.

On its part, the PDP described the Governor’s action as unconstitutional and an attempt to undermine democratic process.

In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Salisu Sukuntuni, the PDP alleged that as a result of the governor’s order, the councils have been crippled from rendering essential services to their employees and constituents.

“The PDP strongly believes in the democratic culture and will not support any action that will jeopardise our cherished democracy. The state government must immediately take action to save the state councils,” the statement says.

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