Averting Another Constitutional Crisis In Kogi State

Source: thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, February 27, (THEWILL) – Kogi, the Confluence State has been on the wrong side of the news for the second time in recent time. First was the controversial governorship election, which saw the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Abubarkar Audu, dying just before final results were declared and the intrigues that followed his replacement. And now, the House of Assembly has been embroiled in crisis in the last three months, with the purported impeachment of the Speaker, Momoh Lawal and other principal officers.

The heat had started shortly after the former speaker and now deputy governor Hon. Simon Achuba, was picked as replacement to erstwhile running mate to Audu, Hon. James Faleke, who had declined to serve as deputy to incumbent governor Yahaya Bello.

This led to sharp differences, which divided the House along two factions of 15 and 5 members. Strangely, the group of five, on December 10, 2016, allegedly backed by the executive arm of the state, sat in an office at the assembly complex and purportedly impeached the speaker, alongside his deputy and minority leader.

It appointed a new speaker in the person of Hon. Godwin Osiyi, with Hon. James Eneche as new minority leader. The Lawal group claimed it subsequently met and passed a vote of confidence on its leadership, which the executive disregarded.

However what transpired later was the withdrawal of the embattled Speaker's security aides, but later restored on the order of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase. The Assembly has since been condoned off by the police, prompting the embattled Lawal group to take their complaints to the House of Representatives for intervention.

THEWILL salutes the IGP for intervening and restoring Rt. Hon. Lawal's security detail. We also welcome the prompt response of the House of Representatives, which last week set up a 10 member committee, led by Hon. Pally Iriase, to ascertain the facts of the matter and report back for appropriate action. If the committee's report is affirmed, we urge the lower chamber to compel the group of five to revert to the status quo immediately. On the alternative, it should take over the running of the assembly in line with the Constitution.

We frown at a situation where a minority group would act illegally by “impeaching,” or carrying out actions against the majority, and by extension against the people, in disregard to the provisions of the law. This same culture of impunity, which had played out in some states in the last dispensation, among them Rivers and Ekiti, must not be allowed to thrive.

THEWILL also condemns the role of governors in meddling into affairs of the legislature, as has been trending across the states. They should respect the principle of separation of power. The lower chamber should use the opportunity to take proactive steps, including re-defining sanction mechanisms against perpetrators of such illegality, in order to serve as deterrent to the 36 state Houses of Assembly.

We recall that the 25-member assembly had been cut to 20, due to the nullification of the election of five members for various electoral issues.

The APC-led Federal Government must speak out on this vexed issue as its silence may be mistaken for partisanship, since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is currently in majority in the assembly. Kogi State has had enough of constitutional crisis and should therefore be let off the steam.

THEWILL also canvasses for financial autonomy for the Assemblies and calls on the powerful state governors to stop frustrating this key amendment in the constitution.