BAUCHI HOUSE OF TWO SPEAKERS
Alhaji Abubakar Ahmed Faggo was impeached by 20 out of 31 members of the Bauchi State House of Assembly as Speaker last Wednesday. Alhaji Haliru Abubakar Jika was sworn-in to replace him. However, Faggo has gone to court to challenge his removal, just as Jika insists, he is the new Speaker. Both men spoke with Daily Sun.
Faggo spoke first. Excerpts:
The House says you have been impeached, what have you to say?
I have not been impeached. Some lawmakers did something that was illegal.
But they maintained that they have met the 2/3 required to change the House leadership. What about that?
But half of the 2/3 of 31 members of the House is 21 if my calculation is right. They are saying that 21 of them signed for my impeachment. Did they show you the paper they signed for my impeachment? I got one of the copies and out of the 21, only 18 signed and out of these 18 members, two have testified that their signatures were forged. They have since gone to court to swear to an affidavit. So, even if they were 19 and assuming the two signatures that were forged were genuine, then it is 19 and if you remove the person that presided, because by law, the number excludes the presiding officer, then they are 18. So how did 18 become 21?
What is the situation now?
We are not going to take matters into our hands. There is a place where laws are interpreted, that is the judiciary. That was why I went to court. I showed them all the papers, including the ones that they signed, and I sought for injunction because they did not follow the constitution and the rules guiding the House as it relates to removing a Speaker. In the first instance, the removal was faulty. Then, the swearing-in was also faulty.
Have you ever heard where a Speaker is sworn-in without the Clerk of the House? An ordinary staff of Grade level 12 was hurriedly brought in to swear-in the lawmaker as peaker.
The Constitution states it clearly that anyone that will preside over the swearing-in of the Speaker must be the Clerk to the House. If that is the case, they are not even supposed to be members of the legislature.
In the last sitting of the House where you presided, how many members were present?
We were 12.
But reports said you were nine
But I am the one telling you that we were 12.
But 12 is not enough to sit and take a decision in the House since you are 31 members…
Are you the one making the law or is it not the law that makes you? The law says 11 is a quorum, but I don't know if you have changed that.
They accused you of non-performance and lack of purposeful leadership..
That is an entirely different matter. I have not even talked about the lack of fair hearing that happened to me. Let's even keep that aside. If they had met the constitutional requirements, I don't have any problem with that.
There is the view that because of your loyalty to Governor Isa Yuguda, he is the one instigating you to interfere with the lawmaking process and administration in the House. Is that the correct position?
I am a Speaker, I am a lawmaker.
I know my rights. Do I have to wait for someone to tell me how to exercise my rights?
Did you lock the House of Assembly during your last sitting?
Yes, of course. The law gives me the authority to do so if there is any problem or confusion. I gave a recess to allow staff and lawmakers to go and participate in the voters' registration. Or has the law not empowered me as Speaker to adjourn?
Are there policemen guarding you presently? Do you still have your security?
Is there any of my policemen that you have seen that has been withdrawn?
Which mace did you use to preside?
The one that we have been authorized to use. The sitting that they had, they stole a mace which they used.
But they insisted their mace was the authentic one.
(Laughs). Then, go and ask the Assembly staff.
How many maces do you use?
The House uses only one mace. The one they used, they stole it
Where did they steal it from?
Walahi, I don't know. But you can go and ask them
What is your message to the Bauchi lawmakers?
When they did what they have done, I realized it was retrogressive. I did not take matters into my hand but went to court. The court is the mediator. You can break the law and be a judge of yourself. They can go to court. I went to court, I got an order, and I sat with the Clerk of the House, but they did not sit with the Clerk and he did not swear-in the person calling himself speaker. In all these, I did not break the law.
'So we have two speakers in Bauchi State now?
There have never been two speakers in Bauchi State.
Who is the authentic Speaker?
When you asked me I told you my name is Rt Hon Abubakar Ahmed Faggo, Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly. Is that not what I told you? Why then are you asking me who the authentic Speaker is? I don't know if you have another speaker.
But Jika insisted he is the authentic Speaker. He was nominated and sworn-in as Speaker after 20 out of the 31 members impeached Faggo. He said the removal of Faggo had nothing to do with the outcome of the recent PDP primaries which saw about 10 out of the party lawmakers losing the party ticket, but because of non-performance.
Jika who defected from the PDP to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) few weeks after the PDP primaries, was the first Speaker at the inception of Yuguda's administration on May 29, 2007. He was, however, forced to resign in August barely three months as Speaker after he violated a resolution by the House stopping any lawmaker in the state from going to the Government House.
He abandoned his primary constituency, the Assembly. He failed to see himself as the representative of the lawmakers who ought to be serious with his mandate. Instead, he resorted to arrogating powers to himself and completely neglecting his responsibilities. The most striking disgust was that the former Speaker could not guide us towards credible legislative process, which is our primary mandate. Even our rights and entitlements were not secured or pursued by Faggo as Speaker and all entreaties to make him change for the better fell on deaf ears. In view of this, we came together and deemed it fit to effect a change in the leadership so as to restore credibility.
It is unfortunate. My response to the action of some few of my colleagues is to say that whatever transpired at the floor of the honourable House is purely guided by the standing order and the 1999 Constitution. Anything on the contrary is null and void.
Court order will not affect the legislative duties. The court issued an order pending when the court will do its hearing before it will ascertain the true position of the actions of the legislators before taking any action.
No, his impeachment had nothing to do with the PDP primaries, nothing of such. Our action was motivated by the need to ensure independence of the legislative arm in providing purposeful leadership. There is no doubt that some people will nurse misgivings about our position. But let me assure the citizens of the state that our steps were not ill-motivated. Even those who fell that we took such a position as an expression of anger because of the failure of some of us at the last PDP primaries, are far from the truth. We believe leadership is from Allah and He gives to whom He wishes. Ours is a corrective measure for effective responsibilities.
They should co-operate with us to make our democracy truly democratic. Faggo should accept the decision of the majority in good faith as there cannot be a leader without followers.