Makinde seeks out-of-court settlement with sacked chairmen

Array of hope of a peaceful and amicable resolution shone yesterday on the crisis rocking local government administration in Oyo State, as Governor Seyi Makinde has opted for an out-of-court settlement.

The governor had instituted a case against the 68 chairmen of the 33 local governments and 35 local council development areas (LCDAs), all of the All Progressive Congress (APC) he sacked on May 29, 2019, upon his swearing in.

The sacked chairmen were elected on May 12, 2018 in an election the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) boycotted on the grounds that there was a court injunction against the conduct of the poll that was not vacated before the election was conducted. But the APC claimed that the injunction was vacated two days to the election.

The PDP claimed further that the law that set up Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) that conducted the council poll did not give the power to the commission to conduct election into the LCDAs, which the party said, has rendered the election illegal.

But the sacked chairmen relied on the pronouncement of the Supreme Court and a letter written to the governor by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and forcefully resumed in the 33 local governments and 35 local council development areas after Makinde appointed caretaker chairmen for the council areas last December.

The government obtained an injunction from the Oyo State High Court last week, which restrained the council chairmen, Inspector-General of Police, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice among others from further action on the matter.

At the resumed hearing on the matter before Justice Mashud Abass yesterday, counsel to the state government, Dr. Akin Onigbinde (SAN), told the court that the state government had decided to adopt out-of-court settlement for the sake of peace and would come back to the court if the strategy failed.

Counsel to the defendants, Niyi Akintola (SAN) and Kunle Sobaloju, said their clients would not accept any impediment against smooth dispensation of justice.

They said that it would be necessary that all cases on the suspension of the council chairmen be dispensed with before the out-of-court settlement idea could work.

Justice Mashud Abass hailed the counsel for their disposition and cautioned all parties to ensure that peace reigned in Oyo State.

He said the judiciary will remain neutral in the matter and ensure that justice prevails.

The court adjourned the case till February 12 for the parties to report on the level of progress on the out-of-court settlement or the continuation of the case.

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