Local Government Accounts: Court Dismisses Governors’ Suit Against NFIU

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit by the Attorneys General of the 36 States and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum seeking to restrain the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from implementing its guidelines on local government spending for lack merit.

Justice Inyang Ekwo said after studying the provisions of the NFIU’s guidelines, he was unable to see where the provisions contradict or conflict the provision of Sections 7 (a and b) of the constitution.

The Judge further held that the guidelines did not contradict Section 162(8) of the constitution which prescribed that the amount standing to the credit of the local government council of the state shall be distributed among the local government councils of that state.

READ ALSO: FG Wins Case Against State Governors Over Financial Autonomy

The court also opined that the provisions of the NFIU’s guidelines do not contradict or conflict with the provisions of the 4th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution which prescribes the functions of a local government council.

Earlier the judge had struck out the name of the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum from the suit for lack of locus standi (legal right) to institute the suit.

The Attorneys General and the Nigeria Governors’ forum had asked the court to determine whether having regard to the combined effect of Sections 7, 162 and the 4th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution which, among others guaranteed the existence and structure of Local Government Councils under Local Government laws of each State, the state governments of the federation are subject to the directives or control of the NFIU or anybody other than the House of Assembly of each state.

PDP, ZLP Boycott Ondo LG Elections

A voter is seen casting his vote Voting has commenced in unit 4 ward 7 in Akure South LGA, Ondo State on August 22, 2020.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Zenith Labour Party have boycotted the local government elections in Ondo State.

Channels Television learned that the parties believe the election could not be conducted in a credible, free and fair atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the Ondo State High Court, in Akure, the state capital on Friday struck out the interlocutory injunction filed by 15 political parties in the state, seeking to stop the conduct of the election.

The presiding judge, Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye struck out the application on the grounds that it breached Section 58 of the Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission (ODIEC) laws.

The polls commenced on Saturday, as Channels Television observed the early arrival of some electoral officials in some local councils.

In Ward 5, in Akure South LGA, ODIEC officials were seen sorting out voting materials as early as 7 am.

Similarly at Unit 10, Ward 6 in Akure South LGA, voting had commenced with low voter turnout.

The electoral body is conducting local government elections in 18 LGAs and 203 wards in the state.

Rivers State Holds Local Government Elections

Rivers State Holds Local Government Elections

 

The Local Government Area (LGA) election in Rivers State is holding as scheduled today, Saturday, June 16, across the 23 council areas of the state.

The exercise which is expected to last between 7:00 am and 4:00 pm will usher in elected chairmen, vice chairmen as well as councillors in the various local governments.

In Khana – one of the LGAs visited by Channels Television crew, the exercise commenced early as electoral materials were distributed at the Police Station Field in Bori community.

PHOTOS: Rivers Residents Vote In LG Polls

 

Similarly, officials of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) arrived the venue of the exercise in Ikwere LGA to conduct the election.

While security operatives are also at the venues, candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as those from other political parties are getting set for the exercise.

Accreditation and voting commenced in some wards with both processes happening simultaneously while the exercise has already begun in most LGAs.

Meanwhile, electoral materials have been moved to the riverine communities, including those in Degema LGA by the RSIEC officials in the company with security operatives.

The communities comprise of Bakana which has six wards (Ward 1 – 6); Tombia which has four wards (Ward 7, 8, 9, and 10).

Others are Bukuma which is Ward 15; Bille – Ward 16; as well as Ogurama and Ké which share Ward 17.

The caretaker chairman of Degema LGA, Mr Boma Dappa, confirmed to Channels Television that the electoral materials were safely moved to his hometown in Bille.

While voting is ongoing in Khana LGA, the exercise has also started at Unit 7 Ward 9 of Obio/Akpor LGA, where the state governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, is expected to cast his vote.

State Electoral Commissions Should Be Scrapped, Says Ex-Lawmaker

State Electoral Commission Should Be Scrapped, Ex-Reps Member Says
West Idahosa

A former member of the House of Representatives, West Idahosa, has recommended that the State Electoral Commission should be abolished if local governments must be fully independent.

Idahosa, who is also a lawyer, believes the administration of the commission depends largely on the state governor.

He added also called for the separation of the local government account from that of the state government.

“Everything squarely rests on the tables of the governors and to that extent, everyone has to genuflect”, he said.

“So I think they have to remove that joint account and then, of course, also abolish the state electoral commission because there will never be an autonomous council.

“There will never be a functional council as long as the state governors and their agencies continue to conduct local government elections in Nigeria.”

Idahosa, who appeared on Channels Television’s politics programme on Wednesday, insisted that the local government must have an independent account.

As the National Assembly reviews the Constitution, he asked the lawmakers to review the provisions which allow for a joint account between the local and state governments.

“As it is now, I think the first thing to be done, because the review of the Constitution is going on now, is to take the liberty to restructure the clause which allows for a joint account.

“Essentially, when you pay monies belonging to the local government and the state into the same account, I don’t know what you expect in the system where the governors determine even who become chairmen and members of the council.

“They conduct those elections using their state electoral commissions,” the former House of Representatives member said.

Gov. Gaidam Swears In Elected Council Chairmen

Gaidam Commends Electorate As APC Sweeps Yobe LG PollThe Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam on Monday swore-in the newly elected council chairmen of the 17 Local Government Areas of the state in Damaturu, the state capital.

Gaidam said the successful conduct of the local government election in the state shows peace has returned to the state and called on the people to partner security agencies in consolidating peace.

He also said that though the issue to local government autonomy has remained a contentious issue in the country, he suggested that it should be handled with caution as elected chairmen could be financially reckless to the detriment of the people.

“When local government received their statutory share from the federation accounts directly, some of the unpleasant experiences include financial recklessness, large scale mismanagement of funds, failure to pay workers’ salaries for months”, Gaidam said.

He however employed the chairmen to enhance revenue generation, revitalise the education sector, health care services, agriculture and to continue with the laudable initiatives of the state government aimed at improving the lives of the peoples.

The governor tasked them to utilized their allocation in infrastructural development of their councils and to fight the ghost worker syndrome, venture into capital projects, support security agencies as well as keep watch of their employees for efficient service delivery.

“You should utilize the allocation from the federation account and the internally generated revenue judiciously, in the spirit of probity and transparency.

“We also expect you to lay enviable a solid foundation that the future councils will continue to build upon.

This could only be achieved if all council members, heads of departments and sectional heads are involved in the decision making process in consultation with the stakeholders of your areas”, he said.

Gaidan further commended the Yobe State Independent Electoral Commission (YSIEC) for holding a successful election and also praised security agents and well-meaning people of the state for ensuring a successful polls.

He added that it is a thing of pride, as the state has joined the league of other sister states that have entrenched democracy in the grassroots.

He however thanked the outgoing council chairmen for their contributions toward the development of their respective Local Governments Areas.

Seven Parties To Participate In Yobe LG Election – IPAC

IPAC, Yobe LG ElectionThe Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Yobe State says seven political parties will participate in the Local Government (LG) election slated for February 11, 2017.

The State Chairman of IPAC, Mr Umar Kukuri, made the disclosure during an interview with reporters in Damaturu, Yobe State’s capital, in northeast Nigeria.

Mr Kukuri said: “The seven political parties have already conducted their various primary elections in which their respective candidates have emerged, submitted to the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) and screened by the electoral commission”.

The seven parties are PDC, SDP, CPP, ACD, APC, NCP and MPPP.

The IPAC Chairman hinted that campaigns had commenced across the state with political parties canvasing for support ahead of the poll.

He asked SIEC to ensure a free and fair election that would be accepted by all the political parties and observers nationally.

Kukuri also appealed to the political parties to conduct themselves according to the rules of the game and avoid issues that could breach peace in the state before, during and after the election.

He praised security operatives in the state for ensuring peace in the previous elections and urged them to maintain the same tempo during the imminent poll.

Hitch Free Election

The chairman further commended the Yobe State government for conducting the election despite the security threat poised by the Boko Haram insurgents.

“The council wishes to appreciate the Yobe State government for promoting democracy throughout the conduct of the local government election.

taraba

“It is noteworthy that the Yobe State government had consistently conducted LG elections in spite of security challenges faced by the state. While states without such challenges failed to conduct LG elections, the council elections are being conducted in Yobe.

“As democrats and proud citizens of the state, it is to the credit of the state government that the council elections of 2015 encouraged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the 2015 general elections in the northeast region that was bedevilled by serious security challenges,” he said.

Mr Kukuri assured the people of the state that IPAC would work with all the participating political parties to ensure a hitch-free election.

The last time Yobe State held an LG election was in 2014 at the heat of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Niger State Approves 0.5bn Naira For Power Contracts

Niger State, PowerThe government of Niger State has approved the sum of 536,944,754 naira to connect two local government headquarters with 33KVA direct line to the national grid after decades of abandonment.

The state’s Commissioner for Works, Transport and Rural Development, Abdulmalik Cheche, disclosed this to reporters on Monday after a State Executive Council meeting in Minna, the Niger State capital.

He explained that the approval was made as Mariga and Agwara local councils have never been connected to the national grid since their creation.

The Commissioner was optimistic that the completion of the projects at Bangi and Agwara, the headquarters of Mariga and Agwara respectively would have added value to the people and boost their economic productivity.

He regretted that the two local governments remained the only councils in Nigeria that were not connected to the national grid, despite Agwara’s proximity to Kanji Dam.

Mr Cheche further stressed the need for the project to alleviate the plight of the people of the areas, as other local governments were connected to 11KVA.

He stated that the contract would be completed at the stipulated time agreed so as to ensure its commissioning by January 2017.

The Commissioner disclosed that Mariga and Agwara projects cost 401,252,162 naira and 135,692,592 naira respectively.

He said that the Niger State government has never relented in the payment of its statutory 35 million naira monthly due to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for its power consumption.

Cheche stated that contractors were given equal opportunity to bid for the contracts, adding that all due processes were followed in the award of the contracts.

Akwa Ibom LG Retirees Protest Non-payment Of Pensions

Akwa Ibom LG Retirees Protest Non-payment Of PensionsHundreds of Local Government (LG) retirees in Akwa Ibom State have protested against the non-payment of their pensions for the past four months.

The pensioners displayed placards with various inscriptions requesting for the intervention of the state government in ensuring the prompt payment of their entitlements.

The leader of the retirees, Obong Etta, recounted the ordeal of the senior citizens in an interview with Channels Television in Uyo, the state capital in southeast Nigeria.

In a swift response, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Victor Antai, appealed to the pensioners to be patient with the state government.

He explained that the Ministry had not been able to meet its obligations due to the shortfall in financial allocation to the local governments.

Mr Antai promised that the government would offset the debt as soon as its finances improve, stressing that money had already been released to settle one month.

He stated that the issue was strictly a local government affair as all state pensioners have been paid up to date.

OGSIEC Fixes October 8 For Ogun LG Elections

OGSIEC, Elections, OgunThe Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC) has announced October 8 for the conduct of the Local Government (LG) elections in the state.

The Chairperson of the OGSIEC, Mrs Risikat Ogunfemi, made the disclosure at a media briefing held at the commission’s office in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital in southwest Nigeria.

She added that the commission would also conduct elections into the 37 newly created Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) across the 20 local government areas.

Mrs Ogunfemi assured political parties and politicians of a level playing field in the conduct of the elections to the third tier of government.

However, she admonished politicians to play by the rules of the game, just as she asked youths in the state not to allow themselves to be used as instrument of violence by politicians.

Account For LG Funds, PDP Asks Niger Governor

Niger,PDPThe Niger State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked Governor Abubakar Bello to account for the Local Government (LG) funds collected by the state in the last one year.

The PDP said apart from the payment of local government staff salaries, no dime has been released to any of the 25 local government areas in the state since May 2015 for capital project execution.

The new Chairman of the party in the State, Tanko Beji, challenged the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration on Thursday during a session with journalists in Minna.

He lamented that activities are grounded in the local government areas because the chairmen and their councilors do not have money to work.

“We want to know how much has accrued to the local government areas since the APC government came into office, how they spent the money (and) under what law was the money spent,” he stated.

Beji, who is a legal practitioner, noted that Governor Bello does not have the constitutional power to abrogate the ‘state local government joint account’, as he had proposed from the end of May.

He said that the state local government joint account was a creation of the constitution, citing Section 162 (6) of the 1999 Constitution as amended saying: ‘No executive governor could by fiat abrogate the law’.

“We are watching at the appropriate time we will take necessary action to protect the law,” he added.

The PDP Chairman also challenged the Governor to tell Nigerians why he had refused to assent to the 2016 Appropriation Bill passed by the House of Assembly over three months ago, and why he has been spending money without the bill being assented to.

“This is a serious constitutional breach. We will not watch the constitution being violated with impunity,” he maintained.

Beji disclosed that he would soon raise a petition to the Code of Conduct Tribunal on the alleged non-swearing in of Special Advisers appointed by Governor Bello.

He pointed out that their being in office meant that they did not declare their assets as provided by law, describing it as an unconstitutional act.

The Niger State House of Assembly approved 15 special advisers for Governor Bello but only seven had been appointed and have assumed office.

Gov El-Rufai Retires 20 Permanent Secretaries

Nasir-El-Rufai-Kaduna-GovernorThe Kaduna State Government has announced the retirement of 20 Permanent Secretaries from the State Civil Service, in line with plans to cut the cost of running government.

A statement by a spokesman for the Governor, Samuel Aruwan, said the retirement of the Permanent Secretaries was due to a decision to cut down ministries in the state from 19 to 13.

Mr Aruwan said the development was part of efforts by the current administration to save funds for the development of schools, hospitals, roads and other basic amenities.

According to the statement, some of the standing ministries are; the Ministries of Justice, Agriculture and Forestry Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.

Others are Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Women Affairs and Social Development, Water Resources, Health and Human Services, Education, Science and Technology, Budget and Planning, Finance, Works, Housing and Transport.

The statement added that the State government also announced the creation of five departments which would be headed by Permanent Secretaries. They are; the Public Service Office; the Bureau of Establishments; Political and Economic Affairs; Cabinet and Security Services and General Services. This will bring the total number of Permanent Secretaries in the state civil service to 18.

Meanwhile, the State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has appointed Mr Ezekiel Baba Karik as the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency.

The appointment of Mr Ezekiel Baba Karik, as Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), has also been announced.

He was a former vice-chairman of Kaduna South Local Government and an organising secretary in the campaign organisation of All Progressives Congress’ governorship aspirant, Honourable Isah Ashiru, prior to serving as special assistant to Mr Barnabas Yusuf Bala after his emergence as the running mate to El-Rufai. Mr Karik holds Postgraduate Diplomas in Management Studies and Business Administration.