House Fracas: Pending Court Case Restrained Me From Reading APC Letter – Dogara
BEVERLY HILLS, June 28 (THEWILL) – As Nigerians continue to express surprise over the fracas that recently forced the House of Representatives into a month’s recess, the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has explained why he could not read the letter sent by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the Principal Officers of the House.
Dogara gave the explanation Thursday when he received a group of former members of the House led by Hon. Dauda Bundot and Hon. Jonathan Asake in his office in Abuja.
The Speaker explained that even before APC letter was delivered to him, more than 30 APC members of the House from the North Central zone had served him with court processes challenging the alleged marginalisation of the region in sharing of principal positions by the APC.
Dogara explained that by convention and in accordance with the House Rules and relevant provisions of the constitution, the six principal positions are usually shared evenly among the six geo-political zone to reflect the Federal Character principle as enshrined in the constitution.
His words: “It means that those six positions of principal officers must go to the six zones in the country, and it is so important to our dear country that we have to establish a commission to enforce that particular position of the federal character.
“We got that later yesterday (Thursday) even before I saw the later, there was court process served to leadership of the House. What they are alleging is very simple: whether it is in accordance with the constitution of Nigeria and the House rules that a political party has the right to choose the principal officers of the House.”
“The second question is: Assuming the political party has the right, whether it is in tandem with the constitution to exclude their zone (North Central). Whether that meets the requirement of the provision of the federal character.”
“So, it is not that we are against the decision of the party and as regards presiding officers, or that we don’t want to announce the position of the party. But there are issues of law, issues relating to court, issues relating to the provisions of the constitution.”
“Let me explain: Assuming we go ahead to announce the party’s position, which did not recognise members of the North Central as principal officers position and most of the members from the Southwest as principal officer positions and then the North central members made a very strong allegation against APC.”
“Assuming they win the case and the court now rules that that directive of the party breaches the provision of the constitution relating to the federal character, so do we now begin to see somebody vacating his position as a principal officer?”
“When we got this letter, we have raised this issue with the party, we said best thing is in order to avoid this, let’s circulate the positions to the zones in the House and there has never a time in the House where a zone got more than two leadership positions and we all know the provision of the constitution which did say that all positions must be guided by the standing orders”
“But in a situation where the standing order is not explicit or does not provide for, then we provide that the use of precedent, customs, the tradition. So it therefore means that even though the law does not say distribute the position to six zones, but the tradition has been that it should go to six zones in line with the constitutional provision relating to the federal character. So this is the bone of contention.”
“But as leaders, we are bound by the constitution and when we got that directive from the party, we said that we must defend the constitution, we must enforce our rules and whether it would have harmful effect on the constitution of Nigeria for us to adopt the position of the party.”
“That is where we are and that is what we are discussing. It was ongoing discussion relating to this that certain section of our members felt well whatever it is, let the House know, that the party is supreme and so that was what led to the near fracas which we witnessed on the floor of the House.”
“We would provide the platform through which we can ventilate the wishes and aspiration of our people. That was why I had to call on chairman ad hoc committee on media to apologise to Nigerians. I have accepted responsibility for anything that transpired and we apologise to the nation.”
In an earlier remark at the meeting, Hon. Bundot, who spoke on behalf of other members of the group, pledged their loyalty and support to Dogara’s leadership of the House even as he rallied support of members of the House for the Speaker.