Assembly take-over: Kogi lawmakers dare Reps
The Kogi State House of Assembly and its new speaker Umar Imam as well as members loyal to him may have drawn a battle line over who would take charge of the Assembly even as the House of Representatives has made a declaration taking over its functions.
Imam had described the House of Representatives declaration taking over the functions of the Kogi Assembly as illegal and ultravires saying it would not hold water.
Umar who was speaking in swift reaction indicated that there was a subsisting court injunction against the position of the House of Representatives, which he said, was contrary to the provision of section 11 (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution.
The House of Representatives had on Wednesday exercised its powers as given by section 11(4) to take over the functions of the Kogi State House of Assembly due to the crisis that has persisted for some time now.
In taking the decision at plenary, the House said its action was in line with the provision of Section 11 (4) of the Constitution, which says the National Assembly could take over the functions of any state Assembly that is enmeshed in crisis.
However Imam said they would go ahead with their sitting at the chambers adding that the Inspector General of Police cannot honour an illegal order coming from people who have disobeyed a court injunction.
Umar insisted that there was no crisis at the moment as members were mending fences adding that the House was to seat on Tuesday but adjourned sitting to honour the departed soul of the late Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, James Ocholi who passed on along with his wife and son last Sunday.
He said ten of the 23 members of the House sat on Tuesday when they adjourned sitting to the following week when more members would have joined them.
On their absence during the House of Representatives’ 10-man committee investigations, he said it was to obey the court injunction because if they had done otherwise it would have been sub-judicial.
The oversight function of the National Assembly does not include the investigation of state House of Assembly just like the State House of Assembly has no power to investigate the Local Government legislative council
According to him, the only place to carry out House transactions was in the chambers as clearly provided by the constitution adding that his faction has the instruments of authority like the mace and the presence of the clerk at their sittings.
He stressed that Kogi state was more than any individual, pointing out that when the Assembly was inaugurated nobody filled the form where he would be speaker, noting that it was difficult for the state to continue like this.
Imam stated: “It is a complete disappointment to claim that we have a House of Assembly before now noting that among all other Assembly in the country, Kogi is at the bottom rung.
The new majority leader of the Kogi State House of Assembly Honorable, Friday Sani Makama had earlier berated the House of Representatives for embarking on a wild goose chase in Kogi claiming to be investigating crises in the Assembly.
Makama who was speaker pro-tempo during the sitting where former Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly Honorable Momoh Jimoh Lawal was impeached said the House of Representatives have no power to investigate the House of Assembly of any State.
Makama indicated that any matter for investigation lies solely with security agencies in Nigeria.
According to him, “The oversight function of the National Assembly does not include the investigation of state House of Assembly just like the State House of Assembly has no power to investigate the Local Government legislative council.
“There is no part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that empowered them to investigate a State Assembly and I think they have really gone against morals, rules, procedures and that will not stand.”
He claimed that if the House of Representatives ‘illegal committee’ that came has any reason to take any decision, their decision has no binding force.
“I put it to you that it cannot stand the test of time besides the illegal committee has no powers to resolve or pass a judgment on the State House of Assembly. It is illegal.”
He said before the coming of the committee the leadership of the House of Assembly had filed a case in the Federal High Court challenging the powers of the National assembly to set up an investigation committee on Kogi.
“We approached the Federal High Court to take a position and interprete if the National Assembly have powers to interfere in the internal matters of a State House of Assembly.
“The court didn’t waste time in granting an injunction stopping them from taking further action until the substantive suit before the court was heard.” Continuing he said it was unfortunate they went ahead to conduct what they called investigation into Kogi State House of Assembly because of the special interest they had in the matter.
He averred that the investigation would have no binding force adding the era of such impunity was gone when the National Assembly would not arrogate powers they don’t have to themselves.
“The last Supreme Court judgment is explicit on this matter; that it is true that the National Assembly would look at some sections of the Constitution which empowers them to make laws for State where the Assembly is assumed not to be able to function for a period of six months.
“It is very clear, the Constitution never made any mistake. That is when the Assembly is unable to function for a period of six months.”
He indicated that in Kogi State the house had just confirmed the appointment of a deputy Governor on the floor of the State Assembly just within the same month of February.
He added that between December and January they received the proposed budget of the State on the floor of the Assembly, and queried the basis on which the National Assembly was coming to take over the functions of Kogi state Asasembly
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