Following the reactions trailing the swearing-in of Ulonma Nwogu as the new executive chairman of Obingwa Local Government Area, the State government has said it was right step in the right direction.
Nwogu was the deputy chairman of the local government until the resignation of the Executive Chairman, Ibe Nwoke from PDP in a letter dated 23rd May 2022 titled, ‘Resignation of my party membership.’
To that effect, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu said in consonance with the laws guiding the Abia State Local government system, the consequence was that Nwoke breached the provisions of Section 23, sub section1(f) of Abia State Local Government Law No 2 of 2006.
Ikpeazu stated that the law makes it imperative for a new chairman to be sworn in to take over the reins of power at the Local Government.
In a statement, Onyebuchi Ememanka, chief press secretary to the governor, said this was expected in a democratic society.
He however, noted that the tone of a majority of the reactions betrayed nothing but ignorance and at times, pure mischief.
“Emergency beer parlor lawyers have emerged from all corners, trying to adumbrate their confusion. Surprisingly, even some practising lawyers have joined this misguided bandwagon of ignoramuses. They have failed to even interrogate what the real situation is, especially with state of the law. Most of these lawyers are extending political mischief into a purely legal issue. They have removed their wig and replaced it with a political cap. This is very unfortunate indeed. So, what is the true situation?” Ememanka said.
According to him, “The operations of the Local Government System in Abia State are governed by Law. Unknown to many people, a law was passed by the Abia State House of Assembly during the tenure of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu in 2006. That law, known as ‘The Abia State Local Government Law No. 2 of 2006 was signed into law by then Governor Orji Uzor Kalu on 10th December, 2006.”
He further stated that the law creates the framework for the operation of a democratic Local Government system in Abia State.
“However, that law has been somehow forgotten because we have not run any democratic local government system in Abia State since that law came into effect until Ikpeazu came on board and decided to demonstrate statesmanship by organising not one, but two consecutive Local Government elections within his tenure.
“Section 23 of that law is headed ‘Cessation of office’ and outlines circumstances under which an elected Chairman or Deputy Chairman of a Local Government in Abia State shall cease to hold office. Subsection 1 of the Section proceeds to outline these circumstances one by one.
“Paragraph f of that subsection says that if an elected Chairman or Deputy leaves the party under whose platform he was elected and defects to another party, he CEASES to hold office. The word CEASES does not require any dictionary to understand,” he said.
He explained that by that token and considering the letters of the Abia State Local Government Law of 2006, he technically resigned from office as Chairman on 23rd May, 2022, adding that the Law was passed and signed about 8 years before Ikpeazu became governor, and that as a result, no one can say that the law was made because of Nwoke.
The Chief Press Secretary said that Governor Ikpeazu has a responsibility to implement all laws passed by the State Assembly and signed into law by the State Governor, and that such law has neither been repealed nor struck down by any court of competent jurisdiction.
“Indeed, under a democracy, if the governor fails or refuses or neglects to implement a law, he stands the risk of incurring the opprobrium of the State Assembly.
“The former Chairman of Obingwa LGA was not impeached. He lost his office by operation of Law and the Governor of the State must ensure that a vacuum is not allowed in the administration of Obingwa LGA.
“It is obvious that the former Chairman did not avert his mind to the provisions of this law when he decided to leave his party. I believe that he did not get proper legal or even administrative advice. “Those who ought to advise him properly were too engrossed with making empty posts on social media and probably didn’t even know that such law existed,” he explained.