The House of Representatives on Tuesday summoned the Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahaya Bello, over the festering leadership crisis in the state House of Assembly.
It accused the governor of encouraging five out of the 25-member legislature to continue to sit in defiance of a resolution of the National Assembly, which had assumed control of the state assembly.
The House recalled that the group of five recently passed the 2016 Appropriation Bill of the state and also approved the nominees for commissioners and special advisers for Bello “illegally.”
The governor is to appear along with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, before a panel constituted by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.
The panel is chaired by the Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress from Lagos State.
Buratai was dragged into the matter following reports that Bello allegedly secured the services of soldiers to give protection to the five members to continue to sit and make laws for the state.
The lawmakers also pointed out that a Federal High Court in Abuja, on May 19, “nullified the purported” impeachment of the Speaker of the House, Mr. Momoh-Jimoh Lawal.
Lawal’s impeachment had triggered the crisis, which had seen the National Assembly jointly passing a resolution in March to assume control of the state assembly in compliance with section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Tuesday’s decision of the House to summon Bello and Buratai came after a motion of urgent national importance moved by a member from Enugu State, Mr. Chukwuemeka Ujam.
It was a session where angry Reps also threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against Bello.
One angry member from Gombe State, Mr. Ali Isa, argued, “We can begin a process to impeach the governor. Before the law and as it stands today, the National Assembly is the legislative House of Kogi State.”
Ujam recalled instances of what he called “illegality and impunity” in the state beginning from May 31.
He stated that on May 31, masked armed men reportedly invaded the legislative quarters in Lokoja, “shooting into the air and causing pandemonium in an attempt to either assassinate the G-15 members of the Kogi State House of Assembly or intimidate them from carrying out their legislative functions.”
Ujam added, “The House is aware that the armed military men were alleged to be officers of the Nigerian Army led by one Captain Usman from Nigerian Army Records, Lokoja, in company with the governor’s security aide.
“The armed military men further went to the House of Assembly around 10am and displaced the men of the Nigeria Police Force, who were stationed to maintain law and order at the Kogi State House of Assembly.”
He cited how on June 2, Bello used soldiers to provide security for the group of five to sit and “screen commissioner nominees in disregard of the rule of law.”
A lawmaker from Osun State, Prof. Mojeed Alabi, told the House that Bello and the soldiers, as well as the groups of five and 15, all committed various “acts of illegality.”
Alabi said the G-15, though in the majority, had also been sitting instead of resorting to the National Assembly for intervention.
“What we are witnessing in Kogi State is a season of illegalities It has been one illegality to another illegality.
“As a matter of fact, the two groups in the House of Assembly are committing illegalities by sitting,” he added.
The House said it derived its powers to summon Bello under sections 88/89 of the constitution, where the National Assembly is empowered to conduct investigations.
Both Gbajabiamila and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, defended the resolution, saying that this was to clarify any reasoning that Bello had immunity and could not be summoned by the National Assembly.
“Under these provisions of the constitution, anybody, and that of course includes Mr. President, can be summoned by the House to appear in respect of any issue on which it has powers to legislate,” Ogor stressed.
In his contribution to the debate, a member from Ebonyi State, Mr. Iduma Igariwey, cautioned against allowing the military to play any additional roles in a democracy beyond protecting the territorial integrity of the country.