About three months ago, five members out of the 20 elected members of the Kogi house of assembly ‘impeached’ the speaker and deputy speaker of the assembly, who has the support of a majority of lawmakers. What makes those five lawless lawmakers so bold? They have the backing of the new Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello.
As a result of the backing from the governor, the minority lawmakers whose coup attempt should ordinarily have been dismissed as a noise making exercise, became the faction with the power in the assembly. Following a petition by the majority lawmakers to the federal House of Representatives, the functions of the Kogi assembly was taken over by the Reps.
However, the five lawmakers have been accusing the House of Reps of illegally taking over. They even sued the House of Reps.
This week, federal security agents sealed off the assembly complex on the order of the House of Reps. The main entrance to the assembly complex was blocked by heavily armed policemen and prevented members who were billed to conduct budget defence from accessing the complex.
The road leading to the complex was also barricaded by armed policemen who subjected staff of the assembly to scrutiny and only allowed them in upon confirmation of their employment status through their Identity Cards.
The security agents claimed to be acting based on instructions from the commissioner of police following a directive from the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
Meanwhile Gov. Bello continues to play the ostrich and act like his support of the minority is not responsible for the crisis in the state assembly. Bello was at the presidential villa today and said that he was unaware of any problems in the assembly. “My House is sitting and we have absolute peace in Kogi state. I am not aware of that the National Assembly is supposed to have taken over. The state is absolutely in peace and the legislative activities are ongoing.
“I am the executive and the executive is functioning and we are doing the best we can. The legislature is doing their own business and they are on it,” the governor said.
However Hon. Aliyu Akuh, the deputy to the embattled speaker Momoh-Jimoh Lawal said the crisis remained unresolved as earlier directive to return to status quo ante by the House of Representatives was ignored by the five members.
He said it was an aberration for five out of the then 20 members of the assembly to impeach the speaker on whom the remaining 15 members had passed a vote of confidence in his leadership.
Akuh said that the 15 members considered the action of the minority five members as an infringement on the constitution of the country adding that in a good democratic setting such infringements must be challenged.
“What happened with five members seeking to impeach a speaker in a house of 20 members is an aberration, unheard of and more so that some members’ names and signatures were forged and included as being part of them.
“We had to go to the higher authority which is the National Assembly vested with the constitutional powers to intervene in such situations. The House of Representatives ordered the seal-off and it was concurred by the Senate,” he said.
On the position of the law with the suit filed by the five members at the Federal High Court, Lokoja challenging the intervention of the National Assembly on the impasse, Akuh said there was no injunction or court order restraining the National Assembly.
The so-called speaker of the five members, Alhaji Umar Imam described the seal-off as illegal saying that for the National Assembly to have gone ahead to seal-off the assembly in spite of the fact that the matter was pending in court smacked of illegality.
Imam who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Umar Ali said the action of the National Assembly was aimed at stunting the growth of the state as all legislative businesses especially the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill would be affected.