CRISIS LOOMS IN KATSINA AS FORMER PDP LG CHAIRMAN SET TO INVADE SECRETARIATS AND TAKE OVER AFTER SUPREME COURT RULING

By Francis Sardauna in Katsina

Advertisements

Political crisis may be looming in Katsina State over a purported Supreme Court judgment reinstating the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) council chairmen and councillors sacked by Governor Aminu Bello Masari.

The embattled chairmen and councillors, whose elections were conducted by the past administration of Dr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema before he left office, were sacked by Governor Masari shortly after he was sworn in.

The Supreme Court had voided laws enacted by the states’ Houses of Assembly which allow governors to sack elected chairmen of local governments and councillors and replace them with appointed administrators.

Masari, who sacked the duly elected chairmen and councillors in 2015 over alleged violation of state’s laws, inaugurated interim management committees for the 34 councils but the committee members have been dissolved by the state Assembly following the expiration of their tenure.

The sacked chairmen and councillors, THISDAY reliably gathered, were planning to resume their duties at various local government areas of the state, if government remained adamant over the apex court judgment.

The sacked local government chairmen and councillors, it was learnt, would face stiff resistance from members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and security agencies in the state if they attempt to take over the councils.

A credible source and APC stalwart in the state said: “We are waiting for them, we can’t fight but we will use relevant laws to resist their alleged plan to take over local government councils.”

He affirmed that Governor Masari had obediently followed laws enacted by successful PDP administrations in the state as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to dismiss the councils’ chairmen.

However, a PDP chieftain, who craved anonymity, told THISDAY on Tuesday that the suspended chairmen and their councillors across the state would besiege the 34 council headquarters to resume duties if government continue feigning the court order.

He said the local government elections that produced the suspended chairmen was held in line with extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and relevant laws in the state.

According to him, “This election and all the processes preceding it are in tandem with democratic norms, free, fair and transparent. Is it not the same APC that is asking the legitimately elected PDP chairmen in Imo State to vacate office? We are going to do same here in Katsina.

“And for your information, there were no legal or political impediments to the conduct of that election, and there has not been any court order dissolving or suspending these duly elected LGA officials.”

But Governor Masari, in a media chat with journalists on January 9, 2020, said he strictly adhered to the state’s law enacted by his predecessors to dissolve the local government chairmen and their 361 councillors.

He added: “We followed the law enacted by our predecessors to dissolve the local government councils. We inherited the law and used it. And now they are challenging the same law that they pass in the court.

“So, we have gone to Supreme Court. So, unless there is a clear pronouncement on our own case that is before the court before we can decide.

“The fact that there is a pronouncement somewhere, I don’t know the circumstances of those pronouncements so they don’t directly affect Katsina State. Unless there is pronouncement from the Supreme Court on our own case.”

Consequently, the governor said the state government would conduct local government elections within three months as soon as the apex court delivers judgment on the litigation brought by the state chapter of the PDP.

Meanwhile, the state PDP Chairman Salisu Yusuf Majigiri, who addressed journalists Monday evening on what he termed rejoinder to Masari’s position on local government councils in the state, said the sacking of the council chairmen and their councillors by the governor violated section 7 (1) of the Nigeria Constitution and relevant laws in the state.

He said: “We therefore maintained that he has not only violated laws but to a much larger extent violates the provisions in the Nigeria Constitution.

“We as law abiding citizens are confident that the reinstatement of the local government council officials would to a greater extent reduce the prevailing insecurity, promote economic growth and general wellbeing of the people.”

The state PDP boss called on the party faithful, particularly the sacked chairmen and councillors to remain steadfast, calm and be law abiding citizens as efforts were on to reinstate them.

The Supreme Court had voided laws enacted by the states’ Houses of Assembly which allow governors to sack elected chairmen of local governments and councillors and replace them with appointed administrators.