The Lagos State House of Assembly has nullified the suspension of the Chairman of Surulere Local Government, Mr Tajudeen Ajide, who was suspended by the nine councillors of the council, for alleged financial malfeanse.
The nullification of the suspension followed the appearance of the council chairman, his deputy and the nine councilors before the House Committee on Public Account (Local Government), chaired by Hon. Mojeed Fata on Thursday.
The councillors restated their claim that the chairman allegedly spent N60 million unapproved fund on ongoing construction of a Primary Health Center at Akerele, among other offences.
Sources close to the proceedings disclosed that the committee found the councilors’ extra-budgetary claim against the chairman untrue.
An official of the state Assembly, who pleased anonymity because she was unauthorized to speak on the mater said,, “The committee listened to explanation by the council manager, who said N160 million was allocated to the PHC in the council’s 2020 budget, out of a total approved sum of N235 million for the project.
“He stated that the council had only spent N135 million out of the N160 million and that the councilors’ extra-budgetary claim did not exist.”
CompassNG also learned that the aggrieved councilors failed to present proof that Ajide had asked to vary the contract sum for the PHC or any approval given for such.
The House Committee also reportedly waved aside the councillors’ grouse that the council chairman ignored summons to appear before them, which prompted his suspension.
The source added, “The committee wondered why the councilors insisted on the chairman appearing before them, when they could easily meet him to seek clarifications on the controversial spending. Overall, the committee was clear there was no financial misconduct and advised parties to keep the peace.”
Recall that before the House intervention, the councilors had last Friday handed Ajide a suspension and, on Monday, claimed they had installed his deputy, Sulaiman Yussuf as acting chairman.
The councilors had said they resolved to suspend the chairman following “reports of its various committees, petitions received from the public and cries of good people of Surulere.”
But the councilors’ action fell short of the procedures stipulated in Local Government Administration Law of Lagos State for removing a council chairman.
Powers to remove a local government was tested in the state House of Assembly of Lagos State, which is also the only one that can approve a replacement, if a chairman is suspended or removed from office.
With the nullification of Ajide’s suspension, Yusuf’s appointment as acting chairman is null and void and of no effect.