Says local governments cannot act independently

The Chairman of Orile-Agege Local Council Development Area in Lagos, Taofeek Adaranijo, has said that he awaits clearance from the Lagos State government before releasing some public information requested by a resident.

The resident, Niyi Raheem, had requested for some information from the council chairman, based on the Freedom of Information Act.

He had, in a letter dated April 25, written through his lawyer, Adebayo Lawanson, requested the following: the records and information of all activities, operations and business; details of programmes and functions of each division, branch, and department of the local government.

He had also demanded to see  documents containing information relating to the receipt or expenditure of the local government from 2008 to 2012; documents containing the names, salaries, titles, and dates of employment of all employees and officers of the local government; and list of files containing grants, contracts, licenses, and agreement the local government might have entered into.

The council failed to provide the requested documents, prompting Raheem to file a suit to be heard on September 26, before a federal high court judge, Stephen Adah.

The Attorney General of Lagos State, Ade Ipaye, was also joined in the suit.

Adaranijo, however, said the constitutional structure of local governments does not allow them to act independently; rather, they have to get state government’s clearance for every planned action.

?Before we take decision, we need to ask the Local Government Ministry and we have done that,” he said.

The Local Government has written to the Ministry of Justice,? he said, adding that the request will be treated based on the Justice Ministry’s response.

?If the Ministry of Justice, through the Local Government Ministry, directs us, we will comply. Some of these information are open to the public. We have our budget presentation every year and it is open to the public. If somebody needs such information, he can get it,? he said.

?As an administrator, I work under the directive of the state government and it is the step we are taking now.”

The council boss said he had nothing to hide from the public, as details about the workings of the council were readily available through many channels, including the council secretariat and the Public Accounts Committee of the state legislature.

Raheem was a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria before he defected to the Congress for Progressive Change in 2011, when ACN?s internal democracy policy robbed him of the primary election for the House of Representative Ticket he allegedly won.

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