By: Olajide Toriola
In a swift move to prevent the crippling of the operations at the grassroots level and to avoid hardship for the local government workers in the State, the Oyo State Government has secured a variation order which allows all monies and allocations meant for the 33 local governments in the state to be paid directly to them.
The state commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun said in a statement on Sunday that Justice John Tsoho of an Abuja High Court gave the variation order in a ruling on February 7, 2017 in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/16/2017 between 15 Baales from Oyo Town and Oyo State Government and nine Ors on the conduct of local elections in the 33 LGs and 35 local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
Arulogun explained that the variation order by the Abuja High Court expressly states “It is hereby ordered that following the understanding reached by the learned counsel representing the Principal parties on the divide as communicated to court, order 4 on the drawn up order of this court dated 20th January, 2017 is varied as follows: that there shall be no more Warehousing of monies and or allocations meant for the 33 Constitutionally recognized Local Governments in Oyo State by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants.
“That such monies and or allocations shall be released directly to the said Local Governments as constitutionally mandated and that this matter is adjourned to 22nd March, 2017 for Report of Settlement,” the commissioner noted.
Arulogun recalled that there was a previous ruling of January 20, 2017 restraining the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) from conducting local government elections earlier scheduled for February 11, 2017 and one of the interim orders of the court directed the 2nd (Accountant General of the Federation), 3rd (Central Bank of Nigeria) 4th (Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission) and 5th (Federal Ministry of Finance) defendants to warehouse into an interest yielding account, all monies and or allocations belonging to the distorted 33 constitutionally recognised local governments in Oyo State, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.
He stated that the warehousing of the LGs monies and allocations would have affected the welfare of the people, payment of salaries and the development of the grassroots, stressing that the variation order was a relief from the ambush for the local government allocations and monies.
The commissioner pointed out that the time frame between now and the next adjourned date will give the plaintiffs and defendants ample time for out of court settlement, adding that the state government would do everything humanly and constitutionally possible to resolve the impasse stopping the conduct of the local government elections.
Arulogun restated that it is a misrepresentation of facts for some individuals and groups to insinuate that the state government orchestrated the suit in order not to conduct local government elections, reiterating that the election will hold as soon as all the legal impediments are removed.