“Our Governor Cannot Say There Is No Money To Conduct LG Elections” – Utum Eteng

Barr. Utum Eteng
Calabar based legal practitioner, Utum Eteng, who sought and obtained an interim injunction from the High Court in Cross River State, barring the state governor, Ben Ayade, from constituting caretaker committees for the recently dissolved local government councils in the state, is insisting that the state governor and his supporters, “cannot say there is no money to conduct local council elections in the state. When they say so openly, while we wait for him to move quickly and conduct the elections, we will show the people of Cross River State the tissue of lies behind this lame submission”.

Furthermore, Eteng believes that “local councils have been so brow beaten by state governors and made ineffective in the discharge of their statutory functions to the people at the local level and this is unacceptable. In our own peculiar circumstance in Cross River State, Ayade had a Supreme Court decision, delivered in his favour on the December 9, 2016. The twist is, before the delivery of judgment in his favour that day, the same Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment which ended the debate on the appropriateness, or otherwise, of state governors’ power to dissolve elected local council administrations in their states and replace them with caretaker committees”.

The lawyer who was a guest on “The Public View”, a news and current affairs programme on HIT 95.9 FM, Calabar, continued that, “…the apex court held that no state in the country has the power to dissolve local government councils and replace them with caretaker committees appointed by the state governor. The judgment also resolved the issue of whether State Houses of Assembly can enact laws that are inconsistent with the provisions of Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), dealing with the existence of local councils under a law providing for their establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions. I am unhappy that while this judgment was delivered before the one validating Ayade’s position as CRS governor, Ayade choose to go against the law, while he celebrated the judgment in his favour. We must challenge him on this, like I am doing in court so that this obvious anomaly will not stand”.

Several callers on the programme, went with Eteng’s point of view. One Paul Lyons said, “the local government is the only arm of government that directly affects the life of the masses. I once lived in the United kingdom and it’s only what the county does ie the equivalent of the local government does that affects me directly, so we should wake up to our duties as leaders”. Itopa Joseph Ozaveshe added, “he idea of having caretaker committees to run the affairs of local government councils is not welcome. Government doesn’t consider those at the local level before making decisions?”

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