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Labour insists on rule of law, backs Ladoja

Posted by From Idowu Ajanaku and Iyabo Lawal (Ibadan) on 2006/01/17 | Views: 582 |

Labour insists on rule of law, backs Ladoja

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) waded into the political and constitutional crisis in Oyo State yesterday.

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) waded into the political and constitutional crisis in Oyo State yesterday. It threw its weight behind the enthronement of the rule of law, which, in this case, will necessitate the re-instatement of the Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja administration in obedience of court order.

Also, Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka yesterday decried what he regarded as President Olusegun Obasanjo's silence on the political and constitutional crisis in Oyo State.

Speaking with reporters in Ibadan, the literary icon described the President's silence as shocking and ominous, saying the whole impeachment process was the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.

The NLC's statement entitled; "Rule of Law must be upheld in Oyo State," reads:

"The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is concerned about the ongoing political crisis in Oyo State. The attempt to ignore a court order, which voids the impeachment of the incumbent governor and the purported swearing in of another governor amount to a most dangerous subversion of the rule of law by its custodians.

"Ironically, this impunity and subversion of the rule of law has featured the Acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, who by his position should ordinarily be the pre-eminent custodian of the rule of law in the state. In this respect, we share the outrage expressed by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) about the unprofessional conduct of the Acting Chief Judge of Oyo State and the regrettable way he has lent his office to abuse.

"The NLC also shares the anxiety of many other Nigerians about the dangers posed to the Republic of the headstrong flouting of court orders involving critical institutions and functionaries of the Nigerian State, in this case, including the Police and some legislators. Clearly, constitutional democracy is being imperilled in Nigeria by the subversion of the rule of law and the patent lawlessness with which many key operators of the system conduct themselves."

The statement signed by NLC President Adams Oshiomhole further said: "Congress maintains that the Nigerian Constitution and the pronouncements by the judiciary remain the basis for the resolution of all matters and problems. Therefore, in view of the clear pronouncement of a competent court voiding the impeachment process, the NLC is unable to recognise Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala as Governor unless and until the court order is set aside by a superior court.

"Therefore, we wish to call on all parties to the current crisis to respect the rule of law. In particular we strongly call on the Inspector General of Police to take the necessary steps urgently to restore order in Oyo State and provide security for Governor Rasheed Ladoja in compliance with the court order voiding the impeachment.

"Given the avoidable killings, mayhem and reckless use of firearms by policemen and thugs that have characterised this conflict in the recent past, it is necessary to call on the governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, and the Deputy Governor, Otunba Alao-Akala, and their respective supporters and principals to ensure that the situation does not get out of hand. They have a duty to ensure that workers and the public are safe and are not molested."

In conclusion, taking a side-shot at Ladoja himself for his earlier conduct in disobeying a court order that he should swear in two Alliance for Democracy (AD) local government chairmen, the NLC said:

"As Governor Ladoja himself will now realise, it is in the interest of everybody, irrespective of standing in government or society, to surrender to the rule of law whether it is convenient or not. As was evident in this case and in the disobedience of a previous court ruling ordering Governor Ladoja to swear in two non-PDP local government chairmen in Oyo State, impunity in the long run is a danger to all."

Soyinka described the controversial impeachment of the state governor, Alhaji Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, last week as "executive lawlessness."

He argued that the impeachment, by a faction of the State House of Assembly, in defiance of a court order and with the backing given the actors by the police, had an imprint of the President.

And his police security not having been restored as demanded, Ladoja did not make good his threat to return to office yesterday.

His deputy, Christopher Alao-Akala, who was sworn-in as replacement, continued to act as governor, swearing in a new secretary to the state government and chief of staff.

Alao-Akala swore in Olayiwola Olakojo as the secretary to the state government, and Dr. Saka Balogun as the Chief of Staff.

But Soyinka, speaking with reporters, described President Obasanjo's silence on the matter as shocking, saying the whole impeachment process was the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.

Although the literary icon pointed out that his organisation, the Citizens Forum, was yet to decide on its next line of action, he said events which culminated in the ouster of the duly elected governor were a clear unmitigated demonstration of lawlessness.

Said he: "We are witnessing lawlessness on a large scale, the one we have not experienced in a couple of decades, executive lawlessness. The responsibility is on all of us to restore this nation to a dignified and lawful nation."

Soyinka added: "Is it not shocking that the President has not made any comment on the matter? I am shocked but I am not surprised, the hand is the hand of the Biblical Esau but the voice is that of Jacob."

Alao-Akala, while swearing in the two officers, admonished them to see their appointments as a call to service and not an opportunity for self-enrichment and personal aggrandisement.

"You are, therefore, called upon to contribute meaningfully in the arduous task of improving the living condition of the teeming masses in the state. You are also enjoined to abide by the oath of office you have taken, by doing right to all manner of people," he said.

Alao-Akala also urged all the citizens of the state to ensure that peace and tranquility reign while promising that his administration would give adequate protection to all law-abiding citizens.

The two officials, according to Alao-Akala, are not unfamiliar with the workings of the government having served as cabinet members during the tenure of former Governor Omololu Olunloyo.

Until his appointment, Balogun was the Liaison Officer in Abuja under the Ladoja administration.

Meanwhile, the state Head of Service, Mrs. Modupe Akinbode, has directed all public servants to report at their duty posts as from 8 a.m. this morning, assuring that adequate security measures had been put in place to ensure safety of lives and property.

Akinbode, in a statement, directed the workers to ignore an earlier publication in a national newspaper (not The Guardian) to stay away from work.

She disclosed that all the ministries as well as other government establishments and parastatals had been directed to open attendance registers for all categories of staff to ensure compliance.

Ladoja failed to show up at his office yesterday as earlier threatened at the weekend.

Only a handful of the state civil servants reported for work while movement in and out of the secretariat complex was unhindered although a team of policemen were positioned at the entrance of the complex.

Ladoja had last Friday insisted that he remained the state governor following the ruling of an Ibadan High Court which nullified the proceedings of the seven-man investigation panel and vowed to resume work yesterday.

Alao-Akala had dared the governor, saying Ladoja would be dealt with according to the laws of the land if he attempted to come to the secretariat.

Apparently to forestall a breakdown of law and order, men of the Nigerian Police Force were drafted to strategic points within the state capital while two armoured vehicles were positioned at the entrance of the secretariat.

Visitors were allowed in after being checked by the policemen while normal business activities went on in the area.

Despite a call to the civil servants to stay at home, some workers reported for duty. Everywhere was cool and calm and people went about their businesses.

The city was peaceful as people went about their daily activities while normalcy gradually returned to the expansive secretariat complex.

Although only one gate was opened out of four gates, people trooped in and out of the

complex while some stood in groups to discuss the events of the past few weeks.

The Alao-Akala camp yesterday set machinery in motion to discharge the ruling that voided the setting up of the probe panel that recommended Ladoja's impeachment.

Justice Bolaji Yusuf of an Ibadan High Court had voided the decisions of the panel as well as its report.

But speaking with The Guardian in Ibadan, the newly sworn in Secretary to the State Government said that the judgment had political undertone. He also disclosed the Alao-Akala camp's decision to put a legal team together to study the judgment.

His words: "This government believes in the rule of law, and we shall do everything to protect it. You would recall that the judge had slated her ruling for January 13 and the governor was sworn in on January 12 by 10 a.m. but dramatically, the same judge went ahead to deliver the ruling about 12.00 to 2.00 p.m. on the 12th instead of the earlier 13th after Akala had been sworn in. What do you do about that?

To Olakojo, Yusuf's judgment was delivered in bad faith and was a deliberate attempt to rubbish the new government. He insisted that in as much as "the state government" had nothing against Justice Yusuf, she should explain to the whole world why she decided to deliver the judgment on the 12th instead of the 13th that was announced by her.

" If I were governor, I would ignore the judgment. But I am not and the government has decided to set a legal team to study the judgment," he added.

Asked if it would not be advisable for Alao-Akala to remain deputy until the legal hurdles are cleared, Olakojo said: "No way, Akala is the new governor of Oyo State. He will remain here to perform his official duties. Ladoja is just making noise, where are his supporters, he is gone and gone forever," he said.

The new Secretary to the State Government pledged that under Alao-Akala, Oyo State would witness development, peace, and stability as the state government will begin to implement the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) manifesto which he claimed was set aside by Ladoja.

Besides, Olakojo said the acclaimed strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, would not control the new governor but as a political father, he has every right to monitor the day to day running of affairs in the state.

Olakojo also disclosed to The Guardian that the name of Deputy Governor had been forwarded to the state House of Assembly. He, however, did not name him.

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