Kogi crisis: Reps may soft-pedal as gov plans reconciliation

There were indications on Tuesday that the House of Representatives might soft-pedal on its decision to investigate allegations that the Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahaya Bello, was fuelling the factional crisis in the state House of Assembly.

Findings showed that the twist followed moves by Bello to reconcile the factions and escape a pending directive of the House to appear before its Ad hoc Committee on the Kogi crisis.

The Reps had, on June 6, passed a fresh resolution to summon Bello and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, over allegations that Bello used soldiers to protect five members of the Assembly to sit in defiance to a resolution of the National Assembly, which assumed control of the Assembly.

The joint resolution of the National Assembly, which was first initiated by the House of Representatives, was passed in March after the reported impeachment of the Speaker, Mr. Momoh Jimoh-Lawal, by five out of the 25-member legislature.

In the ensued factional battle, the House said the governor continued to back the five to run the Assembly in disregard of the National Assembly’s resolution.

It also noted that the governor flouted a judgement of an Abuja Federal High Court, which reinstated Jimoh-Lawal as the Speaker.

In a bid to re-assert the powers of the National Assembly under Section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, the House set up a committee on June 6 to investigate the governor.

However, findings showed that the committee, which is chaired by the Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, did not quite succeed in getting Bello to appear before it at the National Assembly before lawmakers proceeded on their end of session break on Thursday last week.

A senior official, familiar with the development, said, “There have been moves by the governor to quickly reconcile the two factions of the state Assembly.

“He (the governor) more or less accepted that Jimoh-Lawal will be the Speaker. In any case, the judgment of the Abuja Federal High was neither appealed nor vacated.

“So, the cause of the crisis in the first place was the removal of Jimoh-Lawal in breach of legal requirements. That was what brought the National Assembly into the picture.

“What the governor seemed to have done is to embrace the two groups, allow Jimoh-Lawal to be the Speaker and in that way, make the latest resolution of the House of Representatives ineffective.

“This will make it to appear like events have overtaken the resolution.”

Efforts to get the views of Gbajabiamila on the matter did not succeed as he neither returned his calls nor responded to at least three text messages sent to him on the Kogi crisis on Tuesday.

But a source in the committee claimed that the committee was still looking into the issue and would report to the general House at the appropriate time.

The source added, “You should also know that the House is on recess. There is embargo on committee sessions for now.

“Again, don’t forget that there is a standing resolution of the National Assembly that Kogi State House is under the control of the National Assembly.

“Assuming events have overtaken the resolution, it still has to be vacated. There has to be a formal letter from the Kogi State House of Assembly, indicating that calm has indeed returned there for the National Assembly to vacate the resolution.

“Outside this, the Assembly is still under the control of the National Assembly. It is possible such a recommendation will be captured in Gbajabiamila’s report to the House.”

When contacted for comments, the Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, expressed disappointment that Bello did not accord the National Assembly the respect it deserved when the latter intervened.

He stated, “In my view, the Kogi State Governor emerged through unprecedented political/electoral circumstances. For that reason, he has no respect for democratically constituted authorities like the National Assembly.

“We have not taken any official position yet because we are on recess. But I am confident we will when we resume next week. The laws of our land must be respected by all and sundry.”

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