Nigerian Senate orders sealing of Kogi State assembly

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase, to seal the Kogi State House of Assembly complex until the crisis in the Assembly is resolved.

The upper legislative chamber also declared null and void, the impeachment proceedings embarked upon by five members of the Kogi State House of Assembly.

It also condemned the role played by the Police in providing cover for only five members out of twenty members of the Kogi State House of Assembly to commit what it described as “illegalities.”

These resolutions by the Senate were in concurrence with the House of Representatives which had ordered the takeover of the Kogi state House of Assembly over illegal removal of its Speaker.

The Senate noted that it was “invoking the powers conferred on it by section 11(4) of Nigeria’s constitution to take over the legislative functions of the state House of Assembly pending the resolution of normalcy in the Assembly.”

It further noted that, the action was in view of the fact that the Kogi State House of Assembly cannot perform its legislative functions due to intractable crises and volatile security situation in State.

Fact finding delegation
Following disagreement among the twenty members of the Kogi State House of Assembly, the House of Representatives recently sent a fact finding delegation to ascertain the true situation on the illegal removal of the Speaker of the state Assembly.

Part of the resolutions in the report of that delegation revealed that; The Kogi state House of Assembly has not been able to perform its legislative functions as a result of the lingering crisis rocking the house as confirmed by all the stakeholders in the state.

The report also showed that the House of Assembly in Kogi State has been under lock and key since the suspension of plenary on February 15, 2016, as none of the groups has held any meeting in the hallowed chamber.

It also said that there is palpable tension and apprehension, and possible security breach which could lead to further distrust & breakdown in law and order. And the division of the Kogi state House of Assembly cuts across party line and it’s prone to insecurity.Nigerian-Senate

At the time the Senate was considering the report of the House of Representatives, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district, Dino Melaye, attempted to persuade his colleagues against taking over his state House of Assembly, by arguing that matter was still undergoing a judicial process.

“Since it is a conventional practice that any matter that is awaiting judicial remedy would not be discussed on the floor of this senate, as a responsible senate.”

Senator Melaye’s submission was, however, over ruled by the Senate President Bukola Saraki, who reminded him that the matter being discussed in Senate was not as a result of any petition on the Kogi State legislature but the debate was on a report from the findings of the House of Representatives’ delegation that visited Kogi state.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, who also contributed to the debate, urged his colleagues to act wisely and ensure that the country’s democracy does not suffer as a result of the activities of those he described as “voodoo democrats.”

“I want to say Mr. President that our concurrence is very timely and nothing could have been better because, if we encourage this kind of voodoo democracy, one day in this chamber, some few members would rise up and say they are doing the same. And I think we must discourage this, we must make sure it doesn’t happen, our democracy is no longer a nascent democracy, we have come of age and so, we must act and act timely too,” Senator Bwacha said.

Peaceful election
In another development, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has advised the various stakeholders in the Saturday national and state legislative re-run elections in Rivers State to ensure that the poll is free, fair, credible and violence free.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu in Abuja, the Senate President said it was high time the country moved away from turning election into event for bloodletting.

“Election days are supposed to mark the renewal of mandates and advancement of democracy which has been rightly defined as the ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. Therefore, it is trite that no position or interest being canvassed during the poll is worth the blood of any Nigerian.

It is time to put an end to unnecessary waste of human lives during electioneering process. What we have lost to various conflicts across the country in recent time is not only unfortunate but unacceptable. We cannot afford to deepen the malaise we suffer as a nation,” he said.

Obeying rules and regulations
Senator Saraki specifically appealed to the security agencies deployed for the poll, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), candidates, political parties and the electorate to adhere strictly to rules and regulations underpinning the conduct of elections so as to prevent any breakdown of law and order.

He specifically urged the security agencies to be civil and firm in dealing with the people, INEC officials to ensure free, fair and credible elections and the people of Rivers State to be peaceful and orderly before, during and after the elections.

“There is certainly nothing we can gain from attacking our brothers and sisters during an election. Besides, no meaningful development can evolve in an atmosphere devoid of peace.
This is the more reason every stakeholder in the Rivers State re-run elections should contribute to ensure peace so that those who will emerge from the elections as representatives of the people can find an environment conducive enough to serve the people,” he stated.