A legal practitioner, Mr Niyi Akintola, has criticised the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) for proposing to conduct the forthcoming local government election in the state in only 33 local government areas (LGAs) and not the 35 local council development areas (LCDAs).
In an interview with journalists in Ibadan, Akintola was shocked at the decision of Mr Isiaka Olagunju led OYSIEC planning to conduct an election in only the 33 LGs when the Oyo State law creating the LCDAs had not been repealed or amended.
Referencing similar conduct of elections in LCDAs in some states of the country, Akintola criticised the decision of OYSIEC to sideline the 35 LCDAs in the May 22 local government election in the state.
To avoid violation of the Oyo State laws and for the sake of all-inclusiveness, Akintola said it was sensible for the OYSIEC to consider conducting an election into the 35 LCDAs.
He added that even if the All Progressives Congress (APC) demanded a shift in the May 22 date to enable the party to screen and present its candidates in the elections, he pointed out that the APC will only participate in an election that is done in the 33 LGAs and 35 LCDAs.
Akintola said: “The LCDAs were established by law and that is why we as a party say that if the election will not be held in all the local government areas including the local council development areas, we will not take part.
“You don’t expect my party to contest that election based on 33 local government areas.
“OYSIEC is planning the LG election for members of PDP. If it was meant for all, I have spoken to the Chairman of OYSIEC and have told him what should be done.
“The LCDAs were established by Oyo State laws and that law has not been repealed or amended for you to go ahead and contest election in 33 local government areas.
“We are not the first to establish LCDA in this country. It was done in Lagos, Abia, Osun. This is a new development in Oyo. I have not seen a single state that sidelined its LCDA based on the LG election.
“We want a shift in date of the election because we will have wanted time to prepare for the election. Moreover, parties are to screen their candidates. But also, we demand that the election should be conducted in the 33 LGs and 35 LCDAs.”
Reacting, OYSIEC) said that it is conducting election into only the 33 LGAs because they are the ones recognised by the nation’s 1999 constitution (as amended).
Babatunde Adeniyi, Electoral Commissioner, in-charge of Voter Education and Publicity, who speaking, said the current commission did not see in its archives Oyo State Law mandating conduct of election in the LCDAs.
He added that the commission also worked with the fact that the nation’s constitution takes precedence over any other law or by-law.
Adeniyi said: “We are conducting election into the 33 LGs only because the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes 774 local government areas and we have 33 local government areas in Oyo State, not 68 local government areas.
“And that is why this present OYSIEC decided that election be conducted only to the constitutionally recognised local government areas.
“We checked our archives for the said Oyo State Law and do not have that in OYSIEC. We do not have any information that election be conducted for other local government areas aside from the constitutionally recognised 33 local government areas.
“We don’t have, in our archives, Oyo State Law that says election should be conducted into LCDA apart from the 33 local government areas.
“Moreover, we know whenever there is a law contrary to that of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the constitution takes precedence and any law created should be in tandem with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”