By JohnÂ Moyibi Amoda
THE constitutional role of the Deputy Governor is to be there to continue where the Governor is stopped by reason of death, impeachment or any other disability.
Therefore at anyone time there is always the Governor and the Deputy Governor; one in office, the other a back-up.Â The Deputy Governor like the Vice President is not inferior to the Governor or to the President-he or she is an alternate, therefore an alternative when the Governor can no longer serve as governor.
Hence, what pertains to the Governor pertains to the Deputy Governor.Â Section 188(1) confirms this reading of the constitution: â€œThe Governor or Deputy Governor of a state may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section”.
On behalf of Mohammed Gadi, Femi Falana has petitioned the President to stop Yaguda and the House of Assembly from removing Mohammed Gadi from office.Â We quote his petition as presented in TELL.
â€œFalana said Gadiâ€™s fundamental right to freedom of association is guaranteed by Section 40 of the Constitution and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peopleâ€™s Rights.
He stated that the harassment of Gadi could not be justified under the rule of law policy of the present administration.Â Falana added that â€œour clientâ€™s position cannot be faulted in the light of the case of Federal Electoral Commission v Alhadji Mohammed Goni (1983) 2 SCNLR 227, where the Supreme Court condemned cross-carpeting by political holders, which had bedeviled the political morality of the country”.
He posited that “having just forwarded a bill to the National Assembly aimed at banning cross-carpeting by elected political leaders we have no doubt that you will restrain Governor Yaguda from further instigating the Bauchi State House of Assembly to remove our client from office for his principled stand which is anchored on political moralityâ€ .
The above is a good argument that is not constitutionally relevant.Â A constitutionally relevant defence is required this time to frustrate the Bauchi Usurpation.Â The Bauchi case redefines cross-carpeting.
Governor Yaguda and his associates did not defect to join a Bauchi PDP ; they defected to join the national PDP and this is grossly subversive of the Federal structure of Nigerian sovereignty.Â Why is it necessary to go beyond Falana?
First the issue in Bauchi is not a matter of freedom of association but one of representation.Â Governor Yaguda was voted into office to represent the ANPP electorate.Â Governor Yagudaâ€™s election entailed the election of Mohammed Gadi.Â He was not voted for; he is a Deputy Governor to continue where Yaguda is disabled from continuing.
Yaguda is not disabled – he has rebelled against the ANPP electorate that elected him.Â Mohammed Gadiâ€™s position as Deputy Governor is thus problematic.Â The Constitution does not provide an independent role for nor does it specify functions to be discharged by the Deputy Governor.Â Sections 190 and 191 are relevant in this regard.
â€œWhenever the Governor transmits to the Speaker of the House of Assembly a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to the Speaker of the House of Assembly a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Deputy Governor as Acting Governor.
191(1) The Deputy Governor of a State shall hold the office of Governor of the State if the office of Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal of the Governor from the office for any other reason in accordance with section 188 or 189 of this Constitution.
* Where any vacancy occurs in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) of this section during a period when the office of Deputy Governor of the state is also vacant, the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the state shall hold the office of Governor of the state for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new Governor of the state who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the holder of the office.
* Where the office of the Deputy Governor becomes vacant:
(a) by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal in accordance with section 188 or 189 of this Constitution;
(b) by his assumption of the office of Governor of a State in accordance with subsection (1) of this section;
(c) for any other reason;
the Governor shall nominate and with the approval of the House of Assembly of the State, appoint a new Deputy Governorâ€.
There is no vacancy in the office of the Governor and so there is no substantive function except those which the Governor as he deems it fit may assign to the Deputy Governor to perform.
His or her constitutional role is to be Acting Governor or Governor and there is no such opportunity in Bauchi for Gadi to be either: Constitutionally Gadi is in a limbo.Â He does not enjoy the confidence of the Governor and he can be in the same position as Atiku was with Obasanjo, who took away all functions he assigned to Vice President Atiku.
There is no human rights encroached upon by reason of attempt to impeach Gadi.Â The Constitution provides the provisions for impeachment of both Governor or Deputy Governor in Sections 188 and 189.