BY BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
SOLUTION to political imbroglio in the Kogi State House of Assembly is not in sight giving unfolding events in the state. Efforts by stakeholders to settle the crisis are not yielding dividends.
Though the House of representative has waded into the crisis and some political stakeholders are calling on the camps to sheathe their sword, the battle is still raging. Each of the caucuses has remained adamant, refused to shift ground and is still laying claim to the leadership fof the House.
Already, the state is suffering from the stalemate at the Assembly, as both groups, with 12 and 13 members respectively do not have the required majority to receive any correspondence from the executive.
Now, the caucus of the embattled Speaker, Abdulahi Bello has shifted its base to Abuja drawing support from those who were aggrived by the choice of Idris Wada as the successor of the former governor, Ibrahim Idris. Vanguard gathered that the crisis has now gone beyond the executive – legislative crisis has those whose feet were steps on in the course of making Wada governor have ironed out their differences and team up to fight against the new leadership of the House whom they felt is the handiwork of the former State governor.
Following the leadership crisis that engulfed Kogi Assembly, the House of Representatives had sealed off the Assembly complex barring any of the factions from sitting or performing their legislative duties.
Chairman of the six-man Ad-Hoc Committee set up to look into the crisis, Hon. Mohammed Mourktar Ahmed, made the declaration after holding a public hearing with State legislators at the State Assembly Complex.
Hon. Mohammed, who said the committee would not recognise any of the factions’ speakers stressed that none of the factions is allowed to sit or perform legislative function until the crisis is resolved.
Mohammed warned that if House members failed to respond positively to ensure quick resolution, the House of Representatives would be left with no other option than to take over the legislative duties of the House in line with provisions of the constitution..
Undaunted, the new leadership of the Assembly defied the Reps’ and commenced seesions in a hotel, where they among others considered a bill to establish the Kogi State College of Education, Ankpa and suspended two members-Henry Ojuola of Yagba-East state constituency and Air commodore Funsho Daniel of Mopa/Muro state constituency for defecting to another party without meeting constitutional requirement.
The suspended members have debunked the decision describing it as ‘illegality of an illegal sitting’.
Their suspension was based on a petition frmo the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) declaring their positions vacant for leaving their party under which they won elections into the state House of Assembly.
The factional Speaker, Hon. Momoh Lawal Jimoh told the House at the sitting that about two months ago, the former leadership of the Assembly had been informed by the ANPP leadership about the defection through a letter dated 20th of August 2012, signed by Patrick Daudu and Isaac Ainoko, Chairman and Secretary respectively of the party, stating the grounds for which they sought that the two seats be declared vacant since the two lawmakers violated section 109(1)(g) of the constitution of Nigeria.
Henry Ojuola was elected on the platform of the ANPP but served a running mate in the gubernatorial election in the state under the Action Congress of Nigeria while Hon. Micheal Folusho Daniel was elected under the ANPP platform to the Assembly and defected to the PDP in September.
A three man Ad-hoc committee was thereby constituted to investigate the ANPP petition. The session which was held in the presence of the Clerk of the House of Assembly as well as the Sergent-at-Arms also resolved to condemn the State Police Commissioner whom it accused of sealing off the Assembly premises adding that it will make an official report to the office of the Inspector General of Police.
Using hammer as gavel
The new Speaker who used a hammer to conduct the session liaised with higher authorities to ensure that they hold a proper sitting at the Assembly complex against the directive of the Reps.
This development infuriated the National Assembly which called for a total lock of the Assembly complex pending the time the House of Reps will present the report. But that was also thwarted as the “progressive’ group continued their session against the purported directive to Inspector General of Police IGP and the Director of SSS to shot down the premises of State House of Assembly.
The House resumed sitting amidst tight security. Motorists were frisked while vehicles were thoroughly searched by both anti bomb policemen and plain clothes security operatives to forestall possible breakdown of law and order as workers and visitors who were not properly badge were turned back.
Moving the motion for the business of the day the caucus Majority Leader Hon. Aliyu Akuh announced the first reading of the Bill for a Law to establish Kogi State College of Education Ankpa and other matters connected therewith (repeal and re-enacted bill 2012) which was read and adopted.
Speaking to journalists after the sitting on the purported directive to shut down the House Hon.Aliyu Akuh hinted that the House had earlier passed a resolution declaring the action of the House of Representatives adhoc committee as null and void and of no effect. He noted that the state was not in the state of emergency but undergoing leadership change which is permissible in a democracy.
However, political stakeholders including Ibrahim Idris are seeking political solution to free the state from the present logjam.
Vanguard gathered that some stakeholders recently met in Abuja and agreed to dialogue with the factions with the view to resolving the impasse, which has tainted the image of the new administration.
Also, the former governor, Alhaji Idris was among those calling for truce. Two seperate peace meetings have so far been held with the Alhaji Abdullahi camp on one hand and Lawal Momoh Jimoh led faction on the other hand. The meeting Vanguard gathered was called at the instance of the former governor of the state.
However, the meeting which was held at the private residence of the former governor may not have yielded positive result, as both factions were said to have refused to shif grounds.
The former governor who was believed to have played significant role in the emergence of majority of the member was quoted to have said that his decision to wade into the matter, despite insinuations that he was behind the crisis was for the state to move forward. The source said Idris urged members of the two camps to put the interest of the generality of the people of the state above any personal gains.
The House committee chairman on Information under Bello who also confirmed it said a meeting was held at the instance of the former governor, and his group is awaiting communication from Idris who promised to get back to them. While appreciating the steps taken by the former governor to resolve the issue as a leader, he said they would continue to resist the illegal and unconstitutional means adopted in the removal of speaker Abdullahi Bello by lawals group.
“The speaker can be impeached anytime. We are not against that. But let the proper procedure be followed.
That is what we are saying. Look at Niger state, the House of Assembly there impeached their speaker twice in less than two weeks. Nobody quarrel with that because the constitution and the house rules were followed that is our stand” Akawu stressed
However, the state is already suffering from the stalemate at the Assembly, as both group do not form the required majority to receive any correspondence from the executive. “As you can see the state is already suffering from the crisis.
The group of 12 and 13 can not receive any correspondence from the executive. We have the problem of flood and the 2013 budget still pending it is a very serious problem” he said.