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Monday, December 11, 2023

Imo Council Chairmen’s Suit: What do the Council Chairmen Really Want? – By John I. Mgbe



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The political gridlock and dogfight between the State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and the former Executive Chairmen of the  27 Council Areas in Imo State is well known  by even the grand mothers in the bucolic countryside in Imo State. So, it does not need a rehash in this viewpoint. In a frantic search for reconciliation, both sides have taken their grouse to the Temple of Justice. In a controversial judgment delivered by Justice Ben Njemanze,Chief Judge of Imo State, on the 3rd Day of August,2011,the Council Chairmen lost out as their case was struck out on the grounds that according to the Presiding Judge:”I therefore hold that the Claimants have not placed before this court any credible evidence to enable the Court grant the reliefs they are seeking”. However, in a judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Owerri on the 5th Day of July, 2012, the Council Chairmen were victorious as virtually all the reliefs sought by them were allowed.  Delivering the judgment, the Presiding Judge, Hon Justice Uwani Musa Abba Aji held that “It is declared that the Appellants are still the democratically elected Chairmen of their respective Local Government Councils until their tenure of office expires. That tenure actually expired on August 8th, 2012.

However, in spite of the fact that the tenure of the Council Chairmen ended since August 8th, 2012, the former Council Chairmen have continued to sit tight in their offices, in spite of all pleadings and entreaties from responsible citizens of the state for them to exit the Council Secretariats. This sit tight syndrome has virtually stagnated the political bureaucracy in Imo State and virtually brought the wheel of governance to a screeching halt. The pertinent question that follows is: Why have these former Council Chairmen decided to hijack the Coucil Secretariats even when tenure ended on August 8th,2012?.Perhaps, the next nagging question is:”What then is the period of tenure which the Court severally alluded to in its judgment?”The period of tenure of the Executive Chairmen is not far to seek. The answer to the question can be easily found by taking a peep into the reliefs sought by the Chairmen in their Appeal to the Court of Appeal. The primary relief sought by the Council Chairmen reads thus:” A declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 23(1) of the Local Government Law No.15 of 2000(as amended), the Claimants (i.e. the CHAIRMEN) have a guaranteed tenure of two years in office as democratically elected Chairmen commencing from the date of inauguration on 9th August,2010”.  In summary, they asked to be allowed to serve out their tenure of two years from the date of their inauguration (i.e. August 9th, 2010) and the relief was granted. The two year tenure lapsed on August 8th, 2012.The question now is:” Why are the former Executive Chairmen still occupying the secretariats of the 27 Local Government Areas of the State? From where do they derive the authority to continue to parade themselves as Executive Chairmen of the Councils, even when their tenure ended on August 8th 2012? The impunity becomes more thought provoking and provocative when one considers the fact that a High Court in Imo State presided over by Justice Ngozi Opara had declared that the tenure of the former Council Chairmen ended on 8th August, 2012 and that no court would grant them tenure elongation. Since the ruling of Justice Ngozi Opara has not been set aside by a superior court (i.e. Court of Appeal, Owerri), why is the IMO State Government unable to execute the order of court to recover the Council secretariats from the former Council Chairmen? Does anybody expect Justice Ngozi Opara to personally execute the order of court? Why is  Governor Okorocha’s  Administration very strong on political rhetoric and polemics but alas so remiss in   confronting  the barefaced impunity of the Imo State  branch of the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP)? Why is this so? Why has Governor Okorocha turned a blind eye to the illegal occupation and hijacking of the Council Secretariats by a group of politicians who were neither appointed nor elected, more so, since a court of competent jurisdiction has declared that their tenure has since ended?

In a democratic dispensation, the only way out for the Council Chairmen is to go to the Court of Appeal,Owerri, for interpretation of their judgment  of July 5th,2012(i.e. if they don’t understand it), or to ask  the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of  Justice Ngozi Opara. It is wrong for the former Council Chairmen to use self help to hijack the Council Secretariats. It is dangerous for an elected government to turn a blind eye while some groups hijack the third tier of government. This affront is capable of tarnishing the integrity of the Okorocha –led Administration. In fact, Chief Ikedi Ohakim would not have accepted this kind of tomfoolery and buffoonery from his political opponents. Of course, no politician would have had the effrontery of playing such funny jokes on Chief Ikedi Ohakim. This is one of the good qualities of Ohakim; there are times when a leader must bare his fangs and become ruthless in order to avert imminent danger and overwhelm his assailants. It’s only bad when this combative posture is carried to a level of absurdity-as was often the case in Ohakim’s regime. The present approach of the PDP in taking their litigations to all manner of courts in Abuja, Lagos,Port Harcourt and the like is an abuse of judicial process. These courts are not superior to the Justice Ngozi Opara Court and therefore their judgments or rulings are irrelevant. It’s a ploy to hoodwink the unwary and perpetuate their illegal occupation and stranglehold of the Council Secretariats.

I personally do not actually know the exact  grouse of the former Council Chairmen for capturing the Council Secretariats instead of leaving to their various residencies, offices or even the secretariat of the PDP where they can gather and pursue their litigations. Some people have said that the former Executive Council Chairmen are not actually asking to serve three- year tenure but rather they are asking to be allowed to serve the residue of their tenure which was extinguished while they were not in office. If this is what they are asking for, then, they are not likely to succeed; it’s a veritable case of chasing the wind because that residue of their tenure (i.e. the tenure during the period the councils were dissolved) is irrecoverable, irremediable and, above all, irretrievable. It’s unfortunate; but that is the law.In this viewpoint, I will strive to frontload some decided cases to prove that no court anywhere can grant them tenure elongation. The law is that once you have taken the Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance, the count down on your tenure starts. Once the tenure period is reached, you are timed out; it does not matter whether you were sacked or sick or you abandoned your duty post. I will now proceed to cite some cases to corroborate the above assertion. Since charity must start at home, I choose to start with a suit involving a prominent politician in Imo State and the then State Governor , Chief Achike Udenwa.

The case in question is the suit entitled: Oshieze Vincent Akujuobi Ehirim VS Imo State Governor and 8 ORS.The facts of the case are that Oshieze Vincent Akujuobi  Ehirim was elected Chairman, Owerri Municipal Council on27th March 2004.He was duly sworn into office on 13th April,2004.As a result of a challenge to his election victory by one Jude Agbugba, the Local Government Election  Tribunal sitting in Owerri nullified the said election in a judgment delivered  on 8th October,2004 and ordered fresh  election. Dissatisfied with the judgment, Hon Vincent Ehirim appealed against it. On 12th April, 2005, the Local Government Election Appeal Tribunal dismissed the appeal and ordered for a fresh election. On 18th June, 2005, the 1st Respondent, (ISIEC) concluded fresh elections in which the plaintiff, Oshieze Vincent Ehirim, again emerged victorious. He was sworn into office on 24thJune, 2005 to serve 3-yeat tenure.

Following the timetable advertized s by ISIEC for the conduct of elections in February 2007 for the position of chairmen and counselors of the 27 Local Government Councils in Imo State, Oshieze  Ehirim took out an originating summons before the High Court Owerri wherein he sought a declaration that his tenure as Chairman subsists till 24th June, 2008.He also filed for an injunction restraining the Governor or his agents from removing him from office pending the determination of the suit. In spite of the pendency of the suit, Chief Oshieze Ehirim was removed from office by the then Governor, Chief Achike Udenwa on 13th April,2oo7 on the grounds that his tenure had expired. Thereafter, the second respondent in the suit, the State Governor constituted a Transitional Committee headed by a chairman to run the affairs of Owerri Municipal Council. At the Owerri High Court, the suit was struck out for lack of jurisdiction. Dissatisfied with the judgment, Oshieze Ehirim appealed to the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt. Delivering judgment on the suit in the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, Justice Kekere Ekun drew attention to the Supreme Court Judgment on  Gov Peter Obi and I.N.E.C. Justice Kekere Ekun said:”I am guided by the said decision and inevitably came to the conclusion that the Appellant’s (Ehirim)term of office of three years  commenced on 24th June,2005 and will terminate on 24th June,2008.In the appellant’s brief, he has urged  us to calculate the three year tenure to exclude the period from 13th April,2007 when he was  illegally removed from office to the date when he is restored to office. The provisions of section 29 of the Local Government Administration Law are quite clear in this regard”. On the relief sought by Oshieze Ehirim for an extension of his tenure to accommodate the period he was suspended, Justice Kekere EKUN held: “There is no provision allowing for the extension of the chairman’s tenure. This court is therefore not entitled to read into the law provisions it does not contain”. In summary, the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt held that Governor Achike Udenwa acted unconstitutionally when he sacked Oshieze Ehirim while his tenure was still running. I call on the reader to take judicial notice  of the declaration by the Presiding Judge to the effect  that the Court of Appeal did not have the powers to elongate the tenure of the chairman, in spite of the fact that he did not actually serve part of his tenure because of his sack. At the end of the day, Oshieze Ehirim forfeited 14 months of his tenure. Addressing the press on the issue, Counsel to Oshieze Vincent Ehirim, Barrister Declan Madu, said that their application for extension of the tenure by 14 months was rejected because the Court of Appeal said that it did not have the power to extend the tenure. Everything Barrister ENYINNA Onuegbu and the other 26 former executive chairmen are agitating for are complete in every material particular in the Oshieze Vincent Ehirim episode. They should invite Oshieze Ehirim and his Counsel, Barrister Declan Madu, to brief and lecture them properly. After the briefing, Barrister Enyinna   Onuegbu and his colleagues will begin to see the futility of their present search for a mirage. The Judgment of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt was delivered on Tuesday, 8th April, 2008.It is processed in the Nigerian Weekly Law Report as Ehirim V ISIEC (2OO8) 15 NWLR pages 443.The former Executive Chairmen should call on Barrister Declan Madu for appropriate briefing. He may also tell them that the appeal on the suit is still lying in the Supreme Court. The case file is CA/PH/274/2007.I am sure the case file can be accessed through the library department of the Court of Appeal, Owerri.

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Hon.CHIGOZIE EZE & 147 ORS. (APPELLANTS) AND Governor of Abia: This is another case which is very similar to the suit of the former executive chairmen of the 27LGAs.In this suit, the Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu,dissolved the Local Government Councils ahead of the end of their tenure. However, he retained some of them as members of transitional committees. Dissatisfied with this decision, a group of the affected councilors dragged the governor to court seeking abrogation of the obnoxious policy of dissolving the councils. In their relief, they also asked the court to direct the government to reinstate them to serve out their tenure and also to serve out the residue of their tenure which took place while they were sacked. The State High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice S.N.IMO, struck out the suit and dismissed the reliefs sought. Dissatisfied with the judgment, they appealed to the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt. One of the reliefs sought in the Court of Appeal was “An order compelling the first defendant (i.e. Governor of Abia State) to reinstate the plaintiffs to complete the residue of their respective tenures”. In the judgment delivered at the Court of Appeal,  Owerri on Friday, the 23rd Day of APRIL, 2010 in the suit NO. CA/PH/626/2008, the Presiding judge, Mojeed A. OWOADE, held inter alia:”Appellants relief for an order compelling the 1st defendant/Respondent (i.e.  Governor of Abia State) to reinstate the plaintiffs/Appellants is now impossible to grant as the appellants tenure had lapsed by effluxion of time”. The summary of the Court of Appeal judgment is that although the Abia State Governor did not have the power to dissolve the councils while their tenure was running, however, the relief sought by the counsellors for the court to order their reinstatement to serve out their tenure was no longer feasible because their tenure had expired as a result of the passage/”effluxion “of time. After poring through the two judgments above, the former executive chairmen will very easily come to terms with the futility of their wild goose chase. Perhaps, I wish to restate that on the strength of the cited casec,I can state without any fear of contradiction or equivocation that our former Executive Chairmen of the 27 Council Areas in Imo State have served out their tenure since August 8th 2012 and no court can grant them tenure elongation. It is in their interest to vacate the Local Government offices and go home to prepare for the next Local Government Election which has been tentatively scheduled for the first quarter of 2013.

Mr Peter Obi VS INEC & ORS. This well known case is worthy of mention here in order to clear any scintilla of doubt in the minds of the former executive chairmen of the Local Government Councils in IMO State.MR Peter Obi was the candidate that the Anambra People voted for in the Governorship election of  2003.However,the election was rigged and Dr Ngige was wrongly declared winner of the election by INEC.Mr Peter Obi got back his mandate from the Courts after 35 months of litigation via the Elections Petitions Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. He was eventually sworn in as Governor on 17th March, 2006.While his 4-year tenure was still running, INEC conducted another election which produced Chief Andy Uba as Governor of Anambra State in the 2007 governorship election. Governor Peter Obi sought court interpretation as to whether he had served out his 4-year tenure. The Supreme Court declared that Section 180(2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution is clear and unambiguous. It states that the governor shall vacate office at the expiration of four years commencing from the day he took his Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance. As a result of this development, Chief Andy Uba who was inaugurated GOVERNOR on May 29th, 2003 was sacked while MR Peter Obi was reinstated governor, Andy Uba was Governor for about 18 DAYS. Again, Governor Peter Obi was illegally impeached by the Anambra State Legislature. Mr Obi headed back to the court in search of a court declaration to quash the illegal impeachment.  He lost  part of his tenure before the courts quashed the impeachment and reinstated him as governor. But in spite of these interventions and obstacles in Governor Obi’s tenure, he served out his tenure on 17th March, 2010, exactly four years after he was inaugurated governor on March 10th.2006.In the same vein, Joshua Chibi Dariye, former Governor of Plateau State was suspended from office with members of the State Assembly for six months. The Government was sacked and a state of emergency imposed on Plateau State. He was reinstated after six months but he served out his tenure at exactly four years after he was sworn into office. I have cited just a few of a myriad of such cases in our Statute in order to convince the Council Chairmen to pull back from the quicksand of a perilous idea. Their search for tenure elongation is a mirage, a case of chasing the wind.. The object lesson is that once an elected politician takes the Oath of Office, his tenure starts counting. The Constitution does not take judicial notice of any obstacles or encumbrances that might have hindered the tenure while it was in session.

More important is that there is no record to show that the former Coucil Chairmen demanded the courts to make a declaration on the residue of their tenure while they were sacked or while they abandoned their duty post. Their conspiracy of silence on this contentious issue is an eloquent testimony that they knew that they were serving a  2-year tenure which would end on 8th August, 2012.Their present concern about the period of their tenure is an afterthought which must be jettisoned and discountenanced. It is a ploy to hold the Government of Governor Okorocha and the Local Government tier to ransom with the intention to create social dislocation and upheaval in the State. There are about six barristers among the former Executive Chairmen. Why was this issue not part of the reliefs sought in the High Court and the Court of Appeal Owerri? It is pertinent to  state  that  courts do not grant prayers that were not asked because the Court is not a Father Christmas who gives out gifts that were not solicited. Yes, the Court is a not a Santa Claus. Above all, equity is not for the indolent. A litigant who failed to seek appropriate reliefs from the Courts should not accuse the courts of denying him substantive justice or fair trial. Under the law, even if the statutory tenure is three years and they asked the court for a two year tenure (as they did), the court would  have still granted them the two-year tenure  instead of the three years. It is possible that their energy can carry them for only two years. But luckily, in the case at hand, the provisions of Section 23(1) of the Local Government Administration Law No 15 of 2000(as amended) put the tenure of the councilors at two years commencing from the date of their Oath of Office/Allegiance. I have personally read the document and there is no scintilla of ambiguity, ambivalence or equivocation therein. Since the words in the Law are clear and unambiguous, it behooves the Courts to accord them the literal and natural meaning. This is in tandem with the principle that when interpreting constitutional or statutory provisions, a court is enjoined to adopt a liberal approach and that the words used therein should be accorded their natural and literal meaning.

Some people say that the former Executive Chairmen are asking to be allowed to serve three years instead of the two years which they have fully exhausted on the 8th August, 2012. If this is their grouse, then, they have no locus to hold the State to ransom on the basis of such an obnoxious and frivolous demand. The fact is that in the reliefs which they sought from the Court of Appeal, they demanded for a declaration that….(iv) by virtue of the provisions of Section 23(1) of the Local Government Law No 15 of 2000(as amended),the Claimants have a guaranteed tenure of two years in office as democratically elected Chairmen commencing from the date  of inauguration on 9thAugust,2010”.See page 6 of the Court of Appeal, Owerri judgment. This is what they asked the Court of Appeal to do  and the Court of Appeal granted that relief on page 46 of the judgment when the Court held :”It is hereby declared that by virtue of the provisions of Section 23(1) of the Local Government Administration Law NO. 15 of 2000(as amended)the appellants have a guaranteed tenure of office as democratically elected Chairmen commencing from the date of inauguration on 9th August,2010”.The Court of Appeal also declared:”It is also hereby declared that the appellants are still the democratically elected Chairmen of their respective Local Government Councils until their tenure of office expires”. The tenure eventually expired on August 8th, 2012.So,what is their complaint or grouse against the government of Governor Okorocha.

It was on account of this judgment that Governor Okorocha held a meeting with them and in a rare show of compassion and humility invited them to serve as Transitional Council Chairmen after the end of their tenure on August 8th, 2012. I am not aware of any other governor in Nigeria who would have exhibited such love and empathy on his political foes. But it is this kindheartedness of Governor Okorocha which is manifested in his mantra of my people, my people, and my people that put him in a class of his own as a governor of uncommon and unique attributes. Surprisingly, the former executive Chairmen rejected the offer .Governor Okorocha also asked them to come and collect the arrears of their salaries; they still refused to collect their salaries. In offering them these mouthwatering options, Governor Okorocha has exhibited immense penitence, remorse and contrition of heart as to make up for the wrongful dissolution of the Councils. Yet, the former Council Chairmen remained adamant and recalcitrant in spite of the conciliatory overtures from the State Governor. Their combative and militant disposition, in spite of the Olive branch from Governor Okorocha shows that the Councilors are more interested in stagnating and frustrating the Okorocha   Administration than in serving the people.

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Long before HON Justice Ngozi Opara ruled that the Councilors served out their tenure on August 8th, 2012, I had stated so in my viewpoint entitled:”Imo LG Chairmen’s suit: The Issue of Tenure” which appeared in a number of  newspapers and also on the internet. Please Google the Headline of the topic and read online or you may browse the website of www.theheartlander.com to read the viewpoint.So, on the strength of the points adumbrated above, there is no justification for the former Council Chairmen to seize the secretariats of the Councils long after the court declared that their tenure ended on August 8th,2012.Thei impunity of hijacking the Council Secretariats is a monstrosity of gargantuan proportion which could be rightly described as a “Civilian Coup” and like all coups ,Governor Okorocha must now suspend action on every other aspect of his duty in order to crush the present Palace Coup by the former Executive Chairmen of the Councils. Nobody goes to sleep when a serpent has sneaked into the bedroom. It is my opinion that as long as these Chairmen are allowed to continue their illegal occupancy of the Council Secretariats, the Governor Okorocha Administration will not be able to be effective or efficient. Truth is that government business in Imo today is in a state of stagnation and inertia and this is exactly what the PDP has in mind in using their power of incumbency in ASO Rock to give legitimacy to a group of people who have used self help to seize power at the Third Tier of Government.

I am in full support of the former Council Chairmen to use all legitimate means in the search for their tenure, but they must vacate the secretariats of the Councils. They should go to their various homes or even the secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Okigwe Road which has been lying abandoned and desolate .They may also relocate to any of the posh hotels in Owerri, after all, 80% of the mega hotels in Owerri belong to the members of PDP .In the twelve locust years the PDP ruined Imo State, they shared the monthly allocations among themselves and used the booty to build exotic hotels and mansions both at home and abroad. Why can’t the  former Council Chairmen relocate to those hotels and get out of the Council Secretariats. Above all, the PDP members are very lucky that we have a Governor Okorocha who, for inexplicable reasons, does not want to drag them to the EFCC or the ICPC in order to explain the sources of their stupendous wealth, squandermania and financial prodigalism and profligacy in the last 12 years. This is one of the regrettable shortcomings of Governor Okorocha; he does not have the capacity and political will to combat the cankerworm of corruption in the political terrain. If Governor Okorocha had the courage to bring them to account for the wastages of the locust years, the PDP would not have had the audacity and temerity to confront his Administration with reckless impunity.

The bottom line of my argument is that until a superior court sets aside the judgment of His Lordship, Justice Ngozi Opara, it will be a travesty of judicial process for the Council Chairmen to continue occupying the Council Secretariats. What we have now is a “Civilian Coup” which must be confronted and extirpated before it does irremediable damage to the Governor Okorocha –led Administration. It is despicable that we have a situation where a group of people who are not elected or appointed by the governor have used intimidation and jungle justice to capture the Council Secretariats, even when a court of competent jurisdiction has ruled that they have served out their tenure. Nobody expects such absurdities in a democracy because it was a renowned statesman who once said:”No man is good enough to rule another without his consent”. So, where do these former Chairmen and councilors derive their authority to legitimize their illegal occupation of the Council Secretariats- a situation that has brought the wheel of governance in Imo State to a stand still? Who are they actually representing now? I appeal to Governor Okorocha to regard this impunity as an emergency which must be confronted now or never. Imo State is practising democracy; hence we cannot tolerate the ongoing anarchy in the Third tier of Government. It is only in a political enclave that is practising a government of Ochlocracy that the lingering anarchy and lawlessness in the Local Government tier can be tolerated. Are we practising   Ochlocracy in Imo State? But what is Ochlocracy? Well, Ochlocracy also referred to as mob rule or Mobbism  has been defined by the Wikipedia online dictionary as “government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities (by a vocal minority)”.

What we have in IMO State today is a tyranny of the minority-a situation where a tiny but vocal cabal of the polity has held a legitimate government to ransom. It is very distressing that today in Imo State a tiny cabal who are not elected, not appointed by the governor are rampaging and intimidating the majority. They set aside orders issued by the elected governor of the State and emerge unscathed. During the Independence anniversary celebrations on October 1st, Governor Okorocha ordered that there would be no march past in the Local Government Areas. The march past would  restricted to the e State Stadium, Owerri.This was to guard against a breakdown of law and order in the State.However, some of the former executive Council Chairmen had the audacity and effrontery  to ignore the order of the governor; they went ahead to use force to break the keys of the gates to the Council Secretariats and organized a parallel march past, in spite of Governor Okorocha’s instructions to the contrary. Elsewhere, the Council Chairmen are busy issuing orders that local government accounts in the banks have been frozen, even when they are complaining that they cannot run the Local Government Administration because the principal officers (e.g. Clerk of House) are not available. Since they say that the Clerks of House and related officials and the MACE are kept beyond their reach, how were they able to deliberate on such issues as the freezing of Local Government Accounts and the decision to organize a parallel match past ,even when the State Governor had issued a contrary order. Why are some of them more interested in dissolving the task force groups and setting up their own groups? In some Local Government Areas, the Directors of Administration and the Treasurers are harassed and their official cars forcefully removed from them. While these signs of Ochlocracy fester, the State Governor manifests indifference to this abnormality. I am extremely uncomfortable with the persistent gridlock in IMO State government coupled with the concomitant breakdown of law and order and once again I call on the State Governor to declare a state of emergency in the Local Government tier. It is my opinion that while the Chairmen are free to exhaust the judicial process in the so-called search for a tenure elongation; they should quit the Council Secretariats now in order to forestall a breakdown of peace and order.

I wish to state that I do not have any personal grouse against the Council Chairmen. They are innocent of all that transpired during the controversial Local Government Selection of August7th, 2010.The Council Chairmen were merely used as pawns on the chess board of politics of intrigue and perfidy. After extorting huge amount from them in order to be appointed Chairmen, they were simply led to the slaughter like sheep about to be slaughtered. The chairmen were merely used to achieve a political mileage by some of the members of the political cabal in the PDP.There was no election and the Former Executive Chairmen know that full well. So, I share in their grief but the Constitution is the grund norm upon which democracy rotates. Since Nigeria is driven by the concept of the rule of law and not a dictatorship of the rule of law, the Constitution of the land must be supreme. As already elaborated above,  the State statute enacted by the Imo State Legislature shows very clearly that the former Council Chairmen have served out their tenure. There is nothing anybody can do about it now .The only path of honour is for the Chairmen-in-Council to bow out and pursue their litigations outside the precincts of the Council Secretariats or, better still, to strategize for the forthcoming local government election which has been tentatively slated for the first quarter of 2013.For the umpteenth time,  I appeal to the former Executive Chairmen to exhibit restraint and caution in order to guard against acts which do not augur well for their tomorrow. They should take judicial notice of the fact that it was not Governor Okorocha’s Government that shortchanged them or caused their present travails. Those who exploited them in order to feather their political nests have since moved on as if nothing happened. They should be sober and act with caution, circumspection, and moderation after all, this moment shall pass. The Bible enjoins us to bear the burden of others; hence no normal person will celebrate the ongoing travails and anguish of the former executive chairmen and councillors of the 27 Local Government Areas in Imo State. They are our brothers and we share in their grief. It was on account of this that in my viewpoint entitled:” Further Thoughts on Imo LG Council Chairmen’s Suit’ which appeared in Nigerian Horn Newspaper of August 29-30,20II,Page 14,I appealed on Governor Okorocha not to allow the counsellors to go on appeal to the Court of Appeal but to allow them to return and complete their tenure. My reason was that the Council Chairmen were innocent of whatever transpired in the Kangaroo selection of August 7th,2010.I gave reasons to prove that they would not embezzle local funds since the source of the looting propensity in Imo State was no longer in Douglas House(seat of power in Imo State).Unfortunately, my appeal which was also sent by text to top members of Okorocha’s Administration was not  accepted.

Finally, I wish to emphasize that the Council Chairmen were innocent of all that transpired during the Local Government selection exercise of August 8th,2010.They were helpless and were merely used and dumped by the racketeering cabal that held Imo State hostage since 1999.However,in spite of our sadness on the travails of these our brothers, the Statute states that their tenure ended on August 8th,2012.So,there is no alternative to faithful compliance with the stipulations of our Constitution and other statutory enactments of the various State legislatures. Their continued stay in the Council Secretariats is deleterious and incompatible with the tenets of a democratic State; it gives the deplorable signal that Imo State is teetering on the precipice of Ochlocracy or mobbism and this is an ill wind that blows no one any good.




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