The crisis in the Kogi State House of Assembly is the latest in the recurring constitutional crises that have blighted the Confluence State
By Richard Moyosore
The audacity of five legislators in a House of Assembly of 20 to “impeach” a Speaker, who had the support of 15 legislators is the latest political absurdity to erupt from Kogi State. It follows the legal complexities thrown up by the death of Abubakar Audu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who was leading in the governorship election that was also declared inconclusive.
Jimoh Momoh was impeached by five of the 20 members in the House and his place supposedly taken over by Umar Imam who was backed by four other members.
The crisis led to clashes which eventually forced security agencies to seal off the premises. At the heart of the crisis was the reported attempt to reposition the principal offices in the state following the emergence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello as governor of the state. Bello like Momoh is from Kogi Central.
Repositioning of principal offices
An attempt to rezone the office of speaker to another senatorial zone was believed to have be en thwarted by Bello forcing the impeachment spearheaded by the Imam group. It is as such not surprising that some stakeholders are accusing the governor of stoking the crisis.
A legislator who craved anonymity told Vanguard that the Assembly crisis was stoked by the Governor. He said the Governor was the one sponsoring the group of five. He said the “uncompromising stance” of the Governor has been responsible for the “intractable imbroglio”.
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Mr. Kingsley Fanwo exonerated Bello from the crisis. He said the crisis “was an inherited one” which had been raging before the advent of the present administration. “The Governor is not a member of the legislature and therefore, couldn’t have decided who leads that important arm of government. The Assembly issue predates the present administration. Are they saying he was causing crisis in the Assembly even before he became Governor?
“The Assembly members know the cause of the problem. They are honorable people who will bury the hatchet soon in the interest of the people they are elected to serve. Having said that, I want to state categorically here that the Governor is desirous of having a stable and peaceful House of Assembly to drive his New Direction agenda”.
The House of Representatives set up a committee to look into the crisis. The committee recommended that the Green Chambers of the National Assembly should assume the duties of the state assembly pending when normalcy is restored. But despite the resolution which was also endorsed by the Senate, the Assembly, notably, the Imam led faction has continued to sit.
Last week’s invitation of the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation by the House of Representatives to shed light on why its orders were not carried out ended in a deadlock. The Attorney General had advised that the House of Representatives position was inconsistent with the provisions of the law concerning the takeover of legislative responsibilities.
As the Kogi State House of Assembly continues to sit amid constitutional issues, the question on the lips of many is: When will peace return to the House? A highly placed source within the APC revealed that political horse-trading is going on to permanently resolve the Assembly crisis. He said: “The crisis is quite unfortunate. It is completely avoidable. It is ill advised to want to take all the key positions at the same time. We must shift ground and move forward. We are close to a compromise”.
This same position was corroborated by party leaders in the state as Kogi people look forward to a functional House of Assembly that move the state forward.
A public commentator in the state, Mr. Olushola Daramola said that the House of Assembly should quickly unite to discharge the duties for which they were elected. In his words, he said members “should avoid unnecessary acrimony” which is capable of detailing the good intentions of the present administration in the state. He also called on the Governor to see all members as his partners for the development of Kogi State.
The end might not have been heard of the Kogi Assembly impasse.