Tenure of Council Chairmen in Imo State: The True Story

| February 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

okorocha

– By Kelechi Njoku Promise

The issue of tenure of local government council chairmen and ward
councilors in Imo State has been a subject of controversy for sometime
now. Sometime in 2011, former local government chairmen in the state
alleged that they were removed from office. This they challenged in an
Owerri High Court and the Imo State Chief Judge refused to order them
back to office. This was later nullified by the Court of Appeal in
Owerri and the sacked council bosses were ordered back to the office
to complete their tenure. However, on the 8th of August 2012, the
council chairmen’s tenure ended based on the Imo State local
government administration Law No. 15 (as amended). The embattled
former chairman filed a fresh suit in an Owerri High Court claiming
that their tenure was 3 years instead of 2 years. Subsequently, they
filed a similar case at the Federal High Court Abuja.

Last year, the Owerri High Court struck out the matter before it
alleging that it was an abuse of court process filling the same matter
before it while that of the Federal High Court is pending.

It could be recalled that during Achike Udenwa’s regime in the state,
the Imo State Local Government Administration Law No. 15 provided for
a three-year tenure for elected officers in the state local government
councils. Mid-way in Ikedi Ohakim’s tenure, the Bon Nwakanma-led Panel
on Local Government reform was set up. In its final report, the panel
recommended parliamentary system and two-year tenure for local
government councils in the state. It could be remembered that when
these recommendations were made public, it was highly criticized and
the then Speaker Goodluck Opia-Led state legislature refused them.
However, Ohakim lobbied the legislators and they passed the two-year
term for the L.Gs and the law was signed accordingly by Ex-Governor
Ikedi Ohakim some time in June 2012. That is why the law is cites ‘as
amended’. It was a one word amendment ‘three years is deleted and
replaced with two year’s. Subsequently, the embattled former council
chairmen and councilors were elected and sworn in on the 9th of August
2010.

When the tenure of the embattled former local government chairmen
became an issue, some people said that Ex-Governor Ikedi Ohakim
claimed that he did not sign the law. But when copy of the gazette law
was made available, there was a twist in the claim of the former
elected council officers. The claim was that though the law was
signed, but that the process that brought them in like purchase of
nomination forms etc started before the said law was signed. This now
elicited the suits recently struck out by the High Court in Owerri and
the one still pending at the Federal High Court.

I do like giving in to sentiments. The present claim to stay in office
beyond 8th of August 2012 is respectfully absurd, illegal and capable
of grinding the state to a halt.

When Ohakim and the PDP selfishly refused to allow the three-year
tenure to be, they did not know that they were indirectly shooting
themselves on the leg. That is why it is not good to be wicked and
selfish. There is an Ibo adage that says that it is good to chase away
a fowl that is matching its legs on excreta because nobody knows who
will eat the legs of the fowl as meat. Today, one of Ohakim’s
wickedness with PDP has backfired and ‘the accused has turned to a
complainant’. Assuming Ohakim had come for a second term, this issue
of tenure wouldn’t have arisen.

Kelechi Njoku Promise
163 Tetlow Road Owerri Municipal
Imo State

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