Crisis Brewing Over Council Boss Reinstatement
Tension is high in Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area of Bayelsa State over the chairmanship of the council. This follows the reinstatement of Chief Ebikitin Diongoli as the chairman of the council.
Diongoli was impeached on May 5 last year by Kolokuma/Opokuma legislative council over allegations of corruption, anti-party activities and absence from duty. His deputy, Chief Ebierein Itubo was subsequently sworn in as chairman on May 6. But a fortnight ago, the state governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson ordered that Diongoli be reinstated to his former position, while itubo reverses to the vice chairman of the council. This however did not go down well with Itubo, who described the action of the governor as undemocratic and violation of the principles of the rule of law, more so since the matter is still in court
Diongoli’s reinstatement may not be unconnected with the role he played during Dickson’s election. He was special adviser on youth mobilisation for the governor’s election. Political analysts see his reinstatement as a compensation for a job well done.
The governor might have acted based on court decision. Diongoli had challenged his impeached in court, which ruled that the action of the legislative council was wrong and ordered for his reinstatement. Itubo appealed against the judgement at the Port Harcourt division of the Court of Appeal. The matter was heard on March 13. His argument was that the governor would have waited for the court’s ruling before reinstating Diongoli or he would have been consulted before such action was taken. He cited Order 55 Rule 5 of the Bayelsa State High Court 2010, which states that “No judgement or order of the court shall be executed or enforced during the pending of an application for stay of execution of such judgement or order.”
Itubo said that since he was not consulted before the executive order, he would not relent in his bid to challenge his illegal removal from office when the matter was yet to be determined by the court. “I don’t know how we are practicing democracy in this country. The office of council boss is not an appointee position, but an elective office; hence it negates the principle of justice for the powers that be to assume that the issuance of an executive directive would resolve the matter before a court of competent jurisdiction.” According to him, it would have been fair if both parties involved were called to a roundtable to settle the matter amicably. He, however, said that as a politician who believes in the rule of law, he would remain law abiding and allow the court to judge and God, the unbiased judge, to resolve the legal matters peacefully in the interest of the people of the local government. The council chairman said he was able to ensure payment of salaries, constructed the road leading to the council secretariat, installed concrete poles for the electrification of the council and its environs as well as built spectators gallery at the Odi sports arena within the nine months he acted as chairman.