By Joseph Erunke
FIFTEEN out of the 20 members in the Kogi State House of Assembly have asked the National Assembly to steer clear of affairs of the state legislature. The 15 members, including the embattled speaker, Momoh-Jimoh Lawal, said the planned take over of affairs of the state assembly by the National Assembly should be halted because the matter was already in court.
They insisted that the National Assembly must rescind its decision to take over the affairs of the state legislature as a result of the crisis, which they claimed was caused by five of their colleagues.
In a letter written to the leadership of the National Assembly,a copy of which Vanguard obtained,yesterday, the lawmakers informed the federal parliament that its order directing the sealing-off of the Kogi House of Assembly premises was illegal as it does not posses such power in the constitution.
The legislators, in a letter through their counsel, Messrs Ademuyiwa Adeniyi,said any action taken by the federal parliament would be null and void since there was no such constitutional provision.
The letter read: “In the light of the above reasons and the simple fact that the House order directing the sealing-off, of the Kogi State House of Assembly is no less an executive order over which the House of Representatives lack the vires to make.
“The making of such order is situated in the Executive by the Constitution which recognises the separation of power of the three arms of government as the hallmark of democracy. “We therefore advise that the directive that the Kogi State House of Assembly be sealed-off, be rescinded without delay.”
They noted that there were several suits pending in various courts,saying the National Assembly must respect its own convention to abstain from any matter that was already a subject of litigation.
The letter further read: “ We learnt reliably from the publications repeatedly broadcast and published on both print and electronic media that an ad-hoc committee set up and designated by the House of Representatives ordered and directed the Inspector General of Police and some other law enforcement agencies to seal off the premises and precincts of the Kogi State House of Assembly and thereby prevent the said House from carrying out its legislative business guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Tabloids are awash with news on this matter in nearly all Newspapers this (Friday ) morning. We are not unmindful of the current events and disagreement of members of the said parliament which culminated into the change of the principal officers of the said Legislative Assembly which is the subject of litigation in the Federal High Court of Nigeria Abuja Judicial Division in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/184/2016 entitled Rt. Hon. Momoh Lawal and 9 Other Versus Hon. Umar Imam and 8 others.
“Prior to this Court action, we assert that legal proceedings in suit No FHC/LK/CS/ 16/16 entitled Kogi State House of Assembly and 3 Others Versus (i) National Assembly, (ii) Speaker, House of Representatives; and (iii) National Assembly, Ad-Hoc committee on Kogi State House of Assembly was instituted challenging that the defendants (i.e. House of Representatives) lack the locus standi to investigate and or dabble into the internal affairs of the Kogi State House of Assembly.
“Any such action of the Defendant approximates to legislative lawlessness done ultra vires and constitutes an infringement of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“Additionally to these reliefs an order of injunction was sought restraining the House from taking any step whatsoever concerning the change of leadership of the Kogi State House of Assembly.