The 796 former Local Government Chairmen and Councillors in Oyo State have accused the state governor, Seyi Makinde and the State House of Assembly of witch-hunting them because of their insistence on being paid their outstanding salaries and allowances amounting to N3,374,889,425.60.
The Supreme Court had, in a judgement on May 7, 2021, ordered the Oyo State Government to pay the ex-council chiefs, who the apex court found to have been unlawfully sacked on May 29, 1999, by Makinde, their salaries and allowances for the three years they ought to have served.
By its own computation, the Oyo State Government agreed to pay N4,874,889,425.60 out of which it paid N1.5 billion, leaving a balance of N3,374,889,425.60 which outstanding judgment debt the Court of Appeal affirmed during a recent hearing on an appeal filed by Makinde, seeking installment payment of the debt, a request the ex-council chiefs have faulted.
The ex-council chiefs, in a statement released on Friday, noted that a recent resolution by the Oyo State House of Assembly, linking some of them with alleged acts of fraud, was part of a plot to get back at them, with the intention of compelling them to abandon the outstanding judgment debt.
They added that since March this year when they got an order to garnish the bank accounts of the state government, in an effort to retrieve the outstanding judgment debt, the government and the House of Assembly saw them as a threat and have devised means to witch hunt them into submission, part of which is the phantom fraud claims.
In the statement signed by three of the affected ex-council chiefs – Ayodeji Abass Aleshinloye, Bashorun Bosun Ajuwon and Oluyinka Jesutoye – they stated that none of them was ever invited by the House of Assembly in respect of any investigation, “be it by the 9th or 10th Assembly.”
The statement partly read; “Our attention has been drawn to a purported resolution of the Oyo State House
of Assembly, wherein some of our members were purportedly indicted of Fraud.
“For the benefit of the great citizens of Oyo State, we hereby state our side of the story.
“In March 2023, we caused our lawyer to garnishee the account of the state government to the tune of N3,374,889,425.60 being the outstanding indebtedness of the state government to us, as voluntarily and solely calculated by them without any input from us.
“The apex court (Supreme Court) gave its judgment on 7th May 2021 and gave the said state government three months to comply with its judgment, but the state government unilaterally varied the order of the apex court to six months.
“The allegation of fraud arose from the House of Assembly due to the fact that we caused the accounts of the state government to be lined, including the Account of the House of Assembly, which is a party to the suit.
“None of us committed any fraud, and if and when we are invited, we have what it takes to defend ourselves.
“This is just a case of witch-hunting of the leadership of the then ALGON. Out of the five Local Governments mentioned, three are the Local Governments of the former Executive Members of ALGON and they ensured that they roped in the then Chairman and Secretary.
“The sum of N3,374,889,425.60 which arose from the judgment of the Supreme Court is our legitimate earnings which represent our entitlements for the period His Excellency illegally prevented us from functioning in our respective offices.
“The said sum stated above is for 68 Chairmen, 68 Vice Chairmen and 660 Local Government Councilors making up a total of 796 people. Thus, on average, each person is entitled to N4, 239, 810.84k.”
“As at date, we have lost 26 of our members (which include one of the people now being purportedly accused of fraud by the House of Assembly) whose children are crying to the conscience of His Excellency for Justice.
“Obviously, if His Excellency had paid our money within the six months expressly pledged by the immediate past Attorney-General on his behalf, our deceased colleagues would have had little money to attend to the sicknesses that took most of them away,” the statement added.