There was outrage yesterday in Edo State over the demolition of some houses by Governor Godwin Obaseki despite a court order restraining it.
Justice Veestee Eboreime had, on August 4, 2022, ruled in favour of elders and leaders of Oke-Oroma community and restrained the Edo Governor from
further trespassing on, bulldozing or developing the land in dispute situate and lying at Oke-Oroma Village, Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area, Edo State with an area of 714.750 hectares or doing anything whatsoever on the land in dispute that is inconsistent with the rights of Claimants/Applicants pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
In the Suit filed by Gaius Emokpae and five others, Justice Eboreime also granted an Interlocutory Injunction restraining the
Defendants/Respondents, their servants, agents and/or privies from taking possession of the land situate and lying at Oke-Oroma Village.
Defendants in the suit were Edo State Governor, Attorney General and the Edo State Geographic Information Service.
The Oke-aroma elders threatened to file contempt proceedings against the Edo Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Oluwole Iyamu.
Mr. Omorogiuwa who spoke on behalf of the elders said the forceful take over of the land was to hand over such to neighbouring Amagba community.
He dismissed allegations of land grabbing levelled against his community by the state government, adding that the administration of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion de-acquired the forest reserve some years back.
“What the Government has done is to trample on the order of court and subvert the rule of law. There is no issue of land grabbing involved. It is up to the Bar to defend the rule of law in our State and our law practice.
“Government is supposed to protect its citizens and not destroy their lives. To build a new town is not done through annexation and forceful acquisition. The action of Governor Obaseki is against United Nations rules on human rights. We will use the law to ensure our ancestral land is preserve for our generation to come.”
A socio-cultural group, the Benin Solidarity Movement, (BSM), condemned the action of Governor Obaseki saying developers would not have been allowed to spend money to erect structures on the land.
President-General of the group, Ambassador Curtis Eghosa Ugbo, in a statement, the destruction of the properties at a time Nigerians are passing through difficult times was wicked and devilish.
“One would have expected Governor Obaseki should have not only erected signposts in the said plots of land to show that the properties belong to the State Government but also create awareness of ownership of the said plots of land.
“These are Edo citizens who paid their taxes as at when due. They deserves accolade, they struggled to purchase the land unknowing to them that the landed properties they had acquired belong to the Edo State Government.”
An activist, Barr Daniel Osa-Ogbegie, warned that the Governor was acquiring community lands for his cronies and friends.
“A Governor is subject to laws, not above the law. A resort to self help has been held in a plethora of cases to be illegal, ultra vires and therefore subject to payment of damages.
“My heart goes out to all those their houses were demolished by the ematon Governor, but what really pains me is that Obaseki has been going around Edo South, grabbing communal lands on behalf of his friends ,Nigerians and Chinese.
“Governorship is not forever. A time will come when books will be opened and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
NACCIMA, Nigeria’s Road To Prosperity – SDP Presidential Candidate, Adebayo
The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Prince Adewole Adebayo, has said that the road to prosperity in Nigeria is through The Nigeria Association of Chambers and Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
Adebayo who spoke at the 4th quarterly meeting of NACCIMA in Enugu assured that the SDP, if elected into power, would not be a lawbreaker government but a law abiding.
He added that one of the difficulties facing the industry is that government does not respect contracts.
He posited that times have changed because in the past before government presents the country’s budget, captains of industries are always consulted, and the government doesn’t take decisions without considering the effects.
Adebayo driving his point and acknowledging the importance of NACCIMA said ‘In the past when you see presidential candidate, governorship candidate, senatorial candidate, you in NACCIMA will say he’s my boy, he use to work for me, he’s a good boy.
He added that Nigeria must return to such lifestyle, because the road to prosperity in Nigeria is through NACCIMA.
True Federalism: Expert Wants NULGE Join CSOs, Others For Constitutional Amendment
Professor Festus Imuetinyan, federal Commissioner, Federal Character Commission, Abuja has called on the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) to join hands with other unions and civil society organizations working for the amendment of the nation’s constitution to make the constitution truly federal.
Imuetinyan made the call on Wednesday in Benin City at the Edo State chapter of NULGE 2022 week celebration with the theme,”Sustaining an autonomous local government as a catalyst for national development: The role of NULGE”.
The university don opined that local governments will only become catalyst for national development when they are put in firm control over local affairs as well as encourage the emergency of local solutions to local problems.
He advocated that the local government matters must be removed from the national constitution and placed within the purview of the states to save them from the challenge of forced uniformity in the face of endemic diversity of local problems.
He added that NULGE, as the major trade union in the local government system in Nigeria, has a duty to ensure that the present unified local government system which is unwieldy is jettisoned.
“Unfortunately, many local government staff are beneficiaries of the present system and do not see any urgent need for changes.
“Your members are the ones that are made sole administrators when elected council heads are illegally sacked by state governments. Many enjoy posting to areas that they are not conversant with the custom and tradition of the people whose problems they are called upon to solve.
“Others are promoted in the face of inadequate utilization of available resources to manage waste and protect public utilities within their jurisdictions.
“It is often alleged that many of your members extort money from members of the public and that they enrich themselves at the expense of the development of the communities”, he said.
He further opined that the present local government system is not patterned to achieve any developmental goal rather than a smooth vehicle for the transfer of centrally collected funds to the pockets of States’ political elites.
Imuetinyan emphasized that the 1999 Constitution makes it possible for state governments to cripple Local Government Councils financially by routing the amount of money standing to the credit of Local governments in the Federation Account (FA) through a joint State Local Government Account rather than directly to local councils.
He asserted that the arrangement adversely affects the fiscal autonomy and viability of most local governments.
According to him, some state governors make inexplicable deductions or unduly delay the release of funds from the joint accounts to local government chief executives.
“Local government chairmen are bullied by state governors to surrender much of their statutory allocations under duress. When they fail; they find other ways to replace them with caretaker committees of selected loyalists.
“Expenditure and project discretion had become a thing of the past. Most states expect their Local governments to seek and obtain permission to embark on projects. Local government projects are inspected periodically by officials of state governments.
“More financial load has been placed on Local governments’ share of the Federation Account. For example, funds for primary school teachers’ salaries and pension charges are now charged centrally to the Local governments.
“The central deductions at source of these charges and several other unfunded mandates in environmental and social spending by the State Governments tend to leave many Local Governments with little funds.
“And unfortunately, many Local governments especially those in the rural areas have limited access to productive tax bases”, he added.
Governors’ Domineering Treatment Of Local Govt Councils Unfair – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has criticised State Governors, over what he described as unfair treatment meted out on the third tier of government.
Buhari who has been strengthening advocacy and autonomy for local government administration in the country alleged that such a domineering stance of state governors was counterproductive to the entire country.
The President said it beats one’s imagination how some state governors will collect, N100 million from the federal allocation and then go around to present N50 million to the Local Council Chairmen then cap it up by compelling the Council boss to sign that he or she collected N100 million.
Buhari warned that such actions are rather despicable and speak of the height of corruption in Nigeria.
The President made the allegation on Thursday, at the Presidential Villa Abuja, while speaking at a Presidential Parley
with participants of the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru.
His words, “I feel it is necessary to digress after this speech and this digression is a result of personal experience.
“A Chief Executive of a state, a qualified lawyer, trained. The treatment of local governments, what he did, this is my personal experience. If the money from the federal government to state governments, let’s put it at N100 million (naira). N50 million will be sent to the chairman with a letter that he will sign that he received N100 million.
“The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants. And then the chairman of the local government will be struggling to pay salaries, and what goes into development?
“Money for salaries will be given, someone will put it in his pocket, this is happening in this Nigeria and its a terrible thing. You cannot say the person doing that is not educated. He is a qualified lawyer. He is experienced and is participating in this type of corruption.
“It’s a matter of personal integrity. Whichever level we find ourselves, the elite has to sit and make all the sacrifices for the country. This is why we are putting you through institutions and getting you ready to lead. The fundamental thing is personal integrity”.
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