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BREAKING: “You Have No Power to Suspend Us” – Suspended Plateau LG Chairmen Challenges Governor

The suspended Chairmen of the 17 local government areas in Plateau State have opposed their suspension, declaring that the State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang, does not possess the power to suspend them. POLITICS NIGERIA reports.Information Guide Nigeria

POLITICS NIGERIA reports that the suspended Chairmen term such action a significant threat to the democratic order.

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Recall that in an earlier report by this newspaper, it was revealed that the state Governor, Caleb Mutfwang, approved the suspension of the 17 LGA Chairmen to facilitate an ongoing investigation by the State House of Assembly.

In a statement issued by the Special Assistant (Media) to the Governor, Gyang Bere, it was stated, “The Executive Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang, received a letter from the Plateau State House of Assembly, dated June 1, 2023, recommending the suspension of the 17 Local Government Areas Chairmen.”

“The recommendation for suspension was based on their failure to provide records of their income and expenditure to the House. In light of this, His Excellency has approved the immediate suspension of the 17 Local Government Areas structures to allow for the investigation being conducted by the House. Furthermore, all property belonging to the Local Government Areas should be promptly handed over to the Directors of Personnel Management,” the statement added.

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However, the suspended Chairmen swiftly responded to the Governor’s decision during a press conference held on Friday.

Led by the State ALGON Chairman, Alex Naantuam, from Shendam LGA, they expressed their concerns and made several points regarding the Governor’s actions.

“Our attention was drawn to a press release issued by Gyang Bere, Special Assistant Media, to the Governor, conveying the Governor of Plateau State’s purported decision to approve the immediate suspension of the 17 Local Government Area Structures,” Naantuam stated.

“After carefully reviewing the said press release, we have the following preliminary observations: The Governor did not cite any constitutional or statutory basis that would enable him to suspend what they described as the ’17 local government area structures.’ This phrase is not easily comprehensible. If we understand correctly, the actions contemplated by the State Assembly are merely advisory to the Governor.”

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“Furthermore, such advice cannot override the existing legislation that establishes the Local Government Councils, as stipulated in the constitution and relevant laws in Plateau State. We have examined the Plateau State Local Government Council Law and found no provision granting the House of Assembly the power to encumber the smooth functioning of the local councils or to request or recommend the suspension or removal of any local government chairman or councillor,” Naantuam explained.

“The Plateau State House of Assembly is responsible for creating the Plateau State Local Government Council law. To act contemptuously and blatantly disregard the laws they themselves have made diminishes the value of their functions… The Governor’s swift response to this unconstitutional request leaves no doubt that the request was politically motivated. The Governor used this request as a pretext to potentially harm our democratic order,” he added.JAMB Result

Naantuam continued, “The House’s resolution, upon which the Governor allegedly acted, is said to have originated from a petition by an unknown and unverifiable person, alleging undisclosed financial improprieties or malfeasance against the 17 Chairmen and members of the Legislative Councils of the 17 Local Government Councils. However, none of us were served with this petition. It appears to be a calculated ambush to achieve a predetermined goal.”

“In any case, the power to remove Chairmen for gross misconduct does not reside with the House of Assembly or the Governor. The procedure for removing a local government chairman is explicitly outlined in Section 37 of the local government council law. Just as the Governor cannot be suspended from office because he is the chief executive of the state, the same applies to the chairmen of local government councils,” Naantuam emphasized.

“Before the purported suspension, the 17 local government chairmen and the legislative councils had approached the court, invoking its interpretative jurisdiction to determine whether the Governor has the power to terminate, suspend, truncate, or disturb their tenure in accordance with Section 7 of the constitution, which guarantees the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils.

“Under this lawsuit, we filed a motion for an interlocutory injunction seeking the court’s order to restrain the Governor, whether by himself or his representatives, from disturbing, disputing, terminating, suspending, or truncating the tenure of the local government chairmen and the legislative council. The Governor was served with this motion on June 1, 2023, at 12:43 p.m. Consequently, the Governor was legally obligated to await the court’s decision on the motion for interlocutory injunction.”

“However, the Governor disregarded the legal process and resorted to self-help. He treated the court proceedings with contempt and proceeded with his actions… We may not possess the power of brute force, but we firmly believe in the power of the law, and we have faith that it will prevail. We will bring this flagrant violation of the law to the attention of the court, the very institution we sought protection from. We trust that the judiciary will exercise its disciplinary powers to overturn this unconstitutional behavior. In the eyes of the law, we remain chairmen and councillors until the court decides otherwise,” Naantuam concluded.NYSC Portal

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Essien, Goodnews is a gruaduate of Communication Arts, University of Uyo, Uyo; Currently working at Infoguide Media as a news writer.

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