Governor Dapo Abiodun has been running the affairs of Ogun State in south-west Nigeria from faraway London, a move lawyers described as unconstitutional because the governor did not transfer power before leaving the country, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

Both Mr Abiodun, his deputy, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, and the Speaker of the House Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, have been out of the country for over a week.

While the governor and his deputy are in the United Kingdom, Mr Oluomo traveled to the United States of America.

Sources at the Assembly hinted that the Speaker had gone to the United States to attend the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on behalf of the Speakers of Houses of Assemblies in the south-west region.

The purpose for the governor and his deputy’s absence is, however, yet unknown.

Governing from abroad

Waheed Odusile, the commissioner for Information, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Abiodun traveled for an official assignment and not on health grounds as being speculated in some quarters.

“The governor is hale and hearty,” he said.

When asked about the deputy governor’s whereabouts, Mr Odusile said he could not ascertain the reason for her traveling.

Mr Odusile said the governor is “running the state from where he is,” adding that he had designated people to handle various tasks.

“If the Governor says SSG, do this for me; deputy, do this for me; Commissioner, do this for me; Perm Sec, do this for me, it is still the governor that is still working,” said the commissioner.

“The governor is running the government from where he is. You know, when he sends you something, you report back to him.

“Even if the governor and his deputy are here, can they do it alone? Definitely, they will designate people and people have been designated already. When the Governor designates you to do something, you report back him.”



Lawyers react

Monday Ubani, a former second vice president of the Nigeria Bar Association, disagreed with Mr Odusile that the governor can “rule from anywhere.”

He said it is inappropriate for a governor to leave his state without transmuting power through a letter to the House of Assembly.

“I don’t know what the governor has gone to do, but if he had gone for whatever leave, the law says he must transmute power and he can’t be ruling from anywhere, that is what the law says.”

In a situation where the governor, his deputy, and the house speaker are out of the country at the same time, Mr Ubani described it as a “problem.”

“These are the major people in the affairs of governance, if the three of them are not around then it is a planned work. The man does not want to transmute power. He knows what he is doing.”

Festus Ogun, a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, described the governor’s trip without transmuting power as unconstitutional.

The lawyer, who threatened legal action against the government, quoted Section 190 subsection one of the 1999 Constitution noting that such trip is “grossly illegal, shameful and unconstitutional.”

“Section 190(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) clearly provides that whenever a governor is embarking on a vacation, he shall transmit a written declaration to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Deputy Governor shall take over the control of governmental affairs as acting governor.

“Given that the Constitution makes it a mandatory condition precedent before embarking on vacation (regardless of the name it is called), the governor’s failure, refusal, and or neglect to abide by the sacred constitutional provisions is a rude abuse and gross misconduct.”

He also declared that the state is currently on an auto-drive with the absence of the three elected most prominent officeholders.

“It is worrisome to see those elected to govern the affairs of the state joining the league of young Nigerians seeking solace abroad. This should never be tolerated.

“Since our country still operates a constitutional democracy where rule of law reigns, we will never allow those who swore an oath under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution to respect and uphold the constitution to violate it arbitrarily. Those elected should stay at their duty post and not whimsically abdicate duties.”

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