Members of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON ) purportedly sacked by Oyo Governor Seyi Makinde have warned banks and council staff not to honour any request by the recently inaugurated caretaker chairmen in the 33 local governments and 35 Local Council Development Authority ( LCDA ) to avoid being prosecuted for fraudulent practices .
The ALGON members stated that the office of Chairmen of Local Government councils and LCDAs are neither vacant nor available under the constitution for any caretaker to justifiably occupy either in law or fact.
In an open letter in Ibadan by the ALGON Chairman and Secretary, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Aleshinloye and Pastor Jesutoye Oluyinka respectively, the association members warned that any individual who passes himself or herself off as Caretaker Chairman or seeks to issue directives to Local Government/LCDAs staff or civil servants or our bankers will be acting fraudulently and in breach of clear legal pronouncements for which such persons and their stooges shall be prosecuted.
” We are compelled to openly issue this letter of caution to the purported Caretaker Chairmen, Bankers to all Oyo state Local Government Councils, LCDAs, Civil Servants in our dear State and all Local Government Staff across our Council Secretariats, to strongly avoid being put under duress by the Oyo State Government to partake in another man’s sin, by not allowing themselves to be used to further and foist what is clearly an illegal and fraudulent administration over our Local Government Councils and LCDAs in Oyo state.
“Over the past few months, we had consistently warned the Oyo State Government, and the Governor of Oyo State to respect the rule of law and desist from the path of illegality he was treading and being railroaded onto by politicians who are hellbent on dividing our Local Government Councils and constituencies as their political fiefdoms and their spoils of war,” they said .
Describing the inauguration of the caretaker chairmen by Makinde as utter lack of respect for the rule of law and the courts, the ALGON members restated that there is no law in Oyo State creating a Caretaker Chairman’s office over any Local Government Council and LCDAs, noting that the recent appointments of Caretakers is a flagrant display of irresponsibility, and mere jokes for public grandstanding with no force of law.
” It is therefore follows that any operation, directives, approvals, disbursements, decision or step taken by such usurpers occupying a nonexistent office can only be tantamount to an attempt to defraud the revenue of the Local Councils and LCDAs for which such persons and their collaborators shall be prosecuted.
“We expected the State Attorney General would have attempted to publicly rebut our emphatic position if it were legally rebuttable, but clearly rather than offer legal advice to guide the state, the learned professor seems to have outsourced his role as legal adviser to politicians who speak ignorantly on air about what they know nothing of.
“The management, administration and financing of Local Councils and LCDAs according to the constitution and the Supreme court in cases variously cited and now in the public domain, can only be validly approved, authorized, authenticated by documents executed by elected Local Government Chairmen. No authorization from any Caretaker Chairman of any Local Government Council or LCDA Caretakers nor their appointors is recognized under the current legal regime in our country.
“Any civil servant, bank or local government staff that honours such illegal approvals, directives or authorization from such persons therefore renders himself/herself liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy and fraud.
“We recognise that the Governor continues to act illegally hiding behind a cloak of constitutional immunity, while his political collaborators outside government who may be urging you all to embark on serial illegalities, will not be signatories to any official council document that may incriminate you and form the subject of investigations of this orchestrated fraud on the administration of Councils. Let us be clear that the revenue of our Local Government Councils and LCDAs for wages and emoluments are only payable to legally recognized employment positions and staff of Councils.”
They added: “Caretaker Chairmen are not legally recognized under our laws anymore and therefore are not staff of councils, nor are they entitled to collect any wage, emoluments or allowance from our Councils under any guise.
“It should be strongly noted that under our jurisprudence ignorance of the law has never been an excuse to criminal culpability. A claim of ignorance, or self imposed duress will not avail anyone of our bankers nor Local Government staff and civil servants who act in defiance of established laws to conspire with usurpers not provided for under any law in our land to rob our councils or pass themselves off as chairmen of offices that are both in law, and to your public knowledge not vacant nor conferred by law on any usurping caretaker. Any voucher signed by or authorized by Caretakers will be tantamount to attempted fraud.
“We remind the Accountant General of Oyo State, the Ministry of Local Government and Council officials across Local Government Councils, that our Joint State/Local government accounts are under the legal regime established by law and the Court judgments, only operatable by the elected local government chairmen whose elections have neither been voided by any court nor by any law.
“You may wish to refer to the NFIU Guidelines on this. Similarly, we remain approving signatories with the Finance and General Purpose Committees of our Councils over Council funds due to each Council. We equally remain on record with our bankers the confirming signatories for payments out of local government accounts which cannot be changed without recourse to law. It was our valid return as elected Chairmen after contested elections that effectively qualified us in this role.
“Therefore any document executed, or directed to be executed by the usurping Caretakers shall be illegal and a calculated fraud against the council. Similarly no bank, HLA/DAG/DFA can legally honour the signature of any Caretaker chairman on any confirmations nor disregard our approving signatories as elected chairmen otherwise such civil servant, staff, account officers, bank managers and their collaborators shall be liable for fraud on the revenue of state and criminal breach of trust.
“If Governor Makinde continues to toe the path of recalcitrance, let him and his co-travellers continues and face whatever the outcome. Again we reemphasize, DO NOT PARTAKE IN THEIR CRIMES AGAINST THE STATE as the law does not excuse criminality by reason of ignorance or even duress, under these circumstances.
“It is our appeal to you all to depart from the path of illegality being urged upon you, and be courageous to save yourselves from impending culpability if found wanting. This is an appeal, but make no mistake about it, the law will take its course against every infringement and criminality irrespective of who perpetrates it.”