Ever since assuming office, four out of six BNP-backed city mayors have been struggling to perform their duties properly as they have spent an average of 49.3% of their tenures out of office due to suspensions and other legal complications.
Of them, Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury was suspended the longest; his suspension lasted 26 months and 27 days, setting his attendance at 40.8%.
After taking office as the mayor on September 18, 2013, he was jailed for 23 months and 20 days in three cases, the longest period that any of the six mayors have spent behind bars.
Ariful was first suspended on January 7, 2015. After securing bail in three cases on January 4, he recovered his mayoral authority on April 2 after 27 long months. The day he rejoined office, he was hit with yet another suspension. However, a court order sustained his mayoral authorities after two days.
Ariful said he was tired of dealing with the string of suspension orders, overturns and cases.
“I are forced to resolve the cases in which I am accused,” he said, saying the lawsuits are politically motivated.
The first mayor of Gazipur City Corporation, MA Mannan spent 23 months and 10 days in jail after being accused in 29 cases. He won his position on July 6, 2013 and assumed office on August 11 of the same year.
Yet, he has been accused in the most cases – 29 times – and suspended three times, with the latest coming in on Thursday. He had to be out of his office for 22 months and four days. Still, he managed to attend office just 18 months and 18 days which covers 39.6% of his tenure until on Sunday.
The High Court on Sunday stayed his third suspension order for three months. The order was issued by the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives after the Anti-Corruption Commission pressed charges against him in a graft case.
After being arrested on February 11, 2015, Mannan was first slapped with a suspension on August 19 the same year in a sabotage case. His second suspension order was made on April 18, 2016 in another case.
Mayor Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul took charge of Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) on 18 September, 2013. Since then, he has been suspended twice and was jailed for a year and 17 days.
The legal bar forced him to remain out of duty for 22 months and 27 days, slightly longer than the days he spent in office – just 49.9% of his tenure.
Already accused in 19 cases, Bulbul was first suspended on May 7, 2015. Rajshahi residents complain they are being deprived of proper economic and infrastructural development because their mayor is being kept from performing his duties properly.
Boni Adam, a private banker, said: “When the mayor is busy fighting legal battles, how can he concentrate on ensuring the city’s development?”
Khulna City Corporation (KCC) Mayor Moniruzzaman Moni took office on September 25, 2013. With three sabotage cases filed against him, Moni was in jail and police custody for 28 days. He was suspended after charge-sheets were submitted against him in two criminal cases on November 2, 2015.
Therefore, he could not perform his duties for 384 days.
He took charge of the city corporation on November 21, 2015 after the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld a High Court order that stayed his suspension.
Till date, he attended his office on 995 days, covering 72.3% of his regime as yet.
Nevertheless, Barisal Mayor Altaf Mahmud Kamal is the only exception since he did not face suspension or any lawsuit since being elected in 2013.
Despite contesting with BNP support, he currently does not hold a post, which many say may have saved him from being suspended or accused in any cases.
However, he claimed that he still faces a number of problems, stating: “I am not getting sufficient funding to develop my city.”
The latest addition to the group of BNP-endorsed candidates, Monirul Haque Sakku, who retained his mayoral post after the March 30 Comilla City Corporation election, assumed office on May 19. He has thus far avoided suspensions and being accused in any cases.