Sunday, August 20, 2017 1:25 pm
Local Government Chairmen sacked by Gov. Simon Lalong in 2015, say the Plateau governor is not committed to an out-of-court settlement of their matter with him.
Their spokesman, Mr Caleb Mutfwamg, former chairman of Mangu Local Government, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Mangu that the governor’s team had been “`dodgy” about settling out-of-court.
Lalong had, on June 15, 2015 sacked the elected chairmen who still had more than a year to serve out their two-year tenure.
The government replaced them with Interim Management Committees.
Miffed by the governor’s action, the local government officials, through their Counsel, Mr Philemon Daffi, dragged Lalong to court to press for damages.
Justice Philomena Lot of Plateau State High Court IV, who presided over the case, however advised both parties to explore the possibility of an out-of-court settlement since they were “all brothers and sisters”, a suggestion both parties agreed to.
But Mutfwang told NAN that the governor, who had appeared excited about the possibility of an out-of-court settlement two years, had not demonstrated any commitment to it.
“Clearly, Governor Lalong is not interested in any out-of-court settlement; he is just not serious about it.
“We agreed to meet two months ago; we were at the venue and waited for several hours, but no one showed up from his side.
“Since that day, no one has called to apologise for keeping us waiting or even to fix another meeting.
“No one has deemed it fit to call to explain what is happening. Our conclusion is that the governor was never interested in that arrangement in the first place and merely deceived the judge into thinking he was.
“It does appear that the governor just wasted our time. Two years have passed but we have not gone anywhere in the pursuit of this case,” he said.
Mutfwang said that Justice David Mann, who took over the case after Lot retired two months ago, called up the matter on July 31, and gave the parties up to Sept. 29, 2017 to report back to court with the final terms of settlement.
“Mann’s order was given three weeks ago, but up to this point, we haven’t heard from either Lalong or his Counsel as to when we shall meet.
“We are already thinking of the next action to take; the only sad thing is that we were deceived into feeling that we could settle out-of-court and have lost a lot of precious time,” he said
But Mr Jonathan Mawiyau, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, has said that Lalong was serious and committed to settling the matter out-of-court.
“It is not true that the Governor is not serious about settling out of court. He is actually committed to it and doing his best to settle this issue.
“The former local government officials should be fair to us by telling you how far we have gone in our discussions with them.
“I have been away to Morocco where I spent two weeks. I returned a week ago and have been very busy.
“We are serious and committed to settling the issue with them. We shall soon resume discussions so as to agree on the final terms that we shall present to the court on Sept. 29, 2017,” Mawiyau said.