• NCP threatens a return to court
• We are not afraid, says APC
Since October 29, 2014, when the tenure of the last elected council chairmen of Lagos State elapsed during the administration of immediate past governor of the state, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has always been giving one excuse or the other to avoid conducting election into the councils.
Curiously, the ruling party and the government of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, which came on board on May 29, 2015, like that of his predecessor, has been giving excuses ranging from incomprehensive voters register, security challenges, re-composition of the Lagos State Independent National Electoral Commission (LASIEC) among others to evade the exercise.
This has continued despite the rulings of a Lagos High Court, on October 23, 2015, which ordered that council elections should hold within 30 days.
The court also ordered the dismantling of the caretaker committees in the 20 local government and 37 local council development areas, declaring such system as illegal and unconstitutional.
Dissatisfied, with the verdict of the court, Lagos State filed Notice of Appeal against the judgment and prayed the court to stay execution of the judgment pending the hearing and determination of its appeal before the Court of Appeal. Many months after, nothing has been done, as it also appeared that the ruling party is not in a hurry to ensure that the polls are conducted despite several criticisms.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday insisted that LASIEC must make an announcement of the date and guidelines for the conduct of the polls within 14 days failure.
The party threatened that failure to do this would force it to sponsor the sack of the present LASIEC board, particularly to prevent provoked disobedience to the councils’ bye laws and authorities.”
The threat was contained in a statement signed by the party’s State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Taofik Gani.
In a similar vein, the National Secretary of National Conscience Party (NCP), Mr. Ayodele Akele told The Guardian yesterday that the party would be heading to court again to seek an order of Mandamus compelling the Federal Ministry of Finance to stop remitting the council allocations to Lagos State pending the time a credible local council poll is conducted and democratically elected chairmen emerged.
Akele accused the ruling APC of deliberately avoiding conducting council polls knowing fully well it will lose as “the party has lost credibility in Lagos.”
The PDP on its part maintained that the tenure of the last democratically elected local government councils lapsed in 2014 but the former governor, Fashola, neglected to allow the council polls, instead he constituted illegal council governments.
According to the party, “This call is on the heels of the recent decision of the Supreme Court judgment, which has again further reiterated the illegality, and unconstitutionality of unelected persons to govern local government areas. “The Supreme Court led by Justice Rhodes-Vivour reaffirmed the need for local governments to be run by only democratically elected persons as chairmen.
“Justice Vivour is a Lagos state slot at the Supreme Court. Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of Lagos High Court had sometimes in 2006 declared such caretaker committees in Lagos councils as illegal. By all these plethora of judgments and the composition of LASIEC, this unending delay can no longer be justified.
“We specifically challenge the LASIEC headed by Justice Ayotunde Phillips (rtd.), to purge itself of the accusations that it is incompetent and partisan, thereby lacking the confidence to conduct credible local government polls hence the unending delay to conduct the polls.”
Meanwhile, the Spokesman of APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe assured the citizens of the state that Governor Ambode would as a matter of fact conduct the council poll as soon as possible, saying: “The election will hold unfailingly next year.”
He dismissed the insinuation that APC led government is deliberately avoiding the election as unfounded.