Raging Crisis At Kogi Assembly | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Raging Crisis At Kogi Assembly

Posted: Mar 15, 2016 at 10:19 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Augustine Adah

There appears to be no end in sight to the lingering crisis in Kogi State House of Assembly despite the decision of the National Assembly to wade in to the matter. The House of Representatives last Wednesday announced the takeover of Kogi State House of Assembly following the crisis that rocked  the assembly since the impeachment of the former Spaeker, Momoh Jimoh Lawal.
The House of Representatives while announcing the takeover of the assembly directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase to immediately seal off the assembly. In taking the decision at plenary, the House said its action was in line with the provision of Section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, which says the National Assembly could take over the functions of any state assembly that is enmeshed in crisis. It would be recall that five members of the Kogi assembly purportedly impeached the speaker Momoh Jimoh Lawal and elected Umar Imam as new speaker.

However, Hon. Friday Sani the majority leader of the G-5 lawmaker that impeached the speaker on Thursday described the action of the House of Representatives as illegal as the house has already challenged the takeover in suit no. FHC/LKJ 16/16. The group accused James Faleke the running mate to late Prince Abubakar Audu, governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress, (APC) in the  November 21 governorship election in Kogi State, as responsible for the crisis in the state assembly. They stated  that the House of Representatives has no right to take over the house because there was no situation to justify their action. “It is clear to me that Faleke cannot distance himself from what is happening in the Assembly because he is determined to bring down the government of Alhaji Yahaya Bello at all cost. The decision of the House of Representatives to take over the Kogi State Assembly shows that there is a vested interest which poses danger to our democracy.” the group declared.

The embattled speaker was earlier impeached last December by 17 members out of the 25 members of the Assembly. However, he denied being impeached and carried on as the speaker following the intervention of PDP national secretariat. Lawal accused the governor of the state Yahaya Bello as being responsible for his present ordeal, the accusation which the governor has denied. The accusation of executive interference when anytime there is crisis in the state assembly especially when a speaker is impeached is not new in the state. When Lawal’s first purported impeachment was announced in December there was rumour that the then governor, Idris Wada was behind the saga. This time around Bello who assumed duty on January 27 was accused of being responsible for the impeachment.

“To be candid, the executive is behind this; when the Deputy Governor invited some of our members to impeach the Speaker, we said we are not going, and then he spoke with some people who agreed. There was no sitting; they went into the Assembly and came out and addressed press that they have impeached the Speaker and other principal officers and announced those who will occupy the positions.

“What we saw the next minute was removal of the speaker’s security on our way to Abuja, they took a towing van to his house and removed the official vehicle,” a member loyal to Lawal claimed.

In his reaction to the ongoing crisis, former Chairman of Dekina Local Government Area, Hon. Simon Maha who attributed the crisis in the assembly to caliber of people elected to represent the people urged those behind the crisis to give peace a chance. He advised electorates to know the people that standing for elections before casting their votes for such person. The current situation in the state assembly according to him has proved that majority of those elected as members of the house were not qualified to represent the people.  He further stated that those behind the ongoing crisis does not mean well for the state.   Analysts believe that the sudden demise of Prince Abubakar Audu on November 22 2015 may have a role in the ongoing power struggle in the state. Governor Bello who suddenly emerged as Audu’s replacement and won the rerun election would want to consolidate his grip on the politics of the state.  Some believe that with the emergence of Bello from Kogi-Central senatorial district, equity demand that the speaker would come from either east or west senatorial zones. The new elected speaker by five members of the assembly hails from Kogi West while the embattled speaker is from Kogi-Central the same zone of the governor. Whatever may be motive of those behind the assembly crisis; observers believe that if the crisis is allowed to continue may snowballed into greater political crisis that would involve more political class and impede development in the state.

Kogi, one of the nine states created by Ibrahim Babangida administration on August 27, 1991 would be 25 years by August this year, but observers have expressed concern over poor infrastructure in the state compared with other states created at the same time. They blame poor governance and leadership as responsible for poor state of infrastructure and development in the confluence state. That position may likely continue unless stakeholders decide to down play ethnic politics and personal agenda which has impede on the development of the state for a long time Looking at the example of Rivers State where the National assembly took over the operation of the state assembly following crisis in 2013, observers believe that the people of Kogi State may be in for a period of legislative in activity because through the period of 2013 to the end of the assembly’s tenure in 2015, there was no record that members of the National Assembly made law for the people of Rivers State or the governor sent any bill to them for approval.

Now that the 2016 budget is yet to be passed, it is believe that the administration of Yahaya Bello who is less than 60 days in office may find it difficult to take off on good note. Observers believe it is time to call the lawmakers and other vested interest to order because the state is greater than individual or group.