Legislature snubs House of Representative Committee on Women in Parliament over suspended lawmaker.
The Bauchi State House of Assembly has said it cannot recall a female lawmaker, Rifkatu Danna, who was suspended nine months ago, because she challenged her suspension in court.
This is just as the House of Representatives Committee on Women in Parliament expressed anger that the state legislature refused to reply a letter written to it on the matter.
Ms. Danna, representing Bogoro constituency of Bauchi State in the State House of Assembly, was suspended from the House in June last year, last year following the report of the House Committee on Anti-corruption, Ethics and Privileges, which found her remarks during a parliamentary session “repugnant and derogatory.”
She was referred to the Ethics Committee for investigation for telling her colleagues during a debate on the planned relocation of Tafawa Balewa Local Government headquarters from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu that the exercise was not possible without an amendment to the 1999 Constitution.
Ms. Danna, the only Christian member of the House, was reported to be the only member that opposed the relocation from Tafawa Balewa dominated by Christians to Bununu, mostly peopled by Muslims.
During the debate, the two-term lawmaker, had also remarked that the manner the relocation was approved by the Assembly was suspicious, a statement her colleagues perceived as derogatory.
She rejected the request to apologise and was referred to the Ethics Committee, which found her guilty and was subsequently suspended.
The Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Information, Dayibu Chiroma, told PREMIUM TIMES, that the House cannot act on the suspension slammed on its female member until the matter is disposed of.
“It is no longer a matter of the House of the Assembly because she has gone to court and so there is nothing we can do,” Mr. Chiroma said. “
Also speaking, the Assembly’s Director of Information, Lamara Chinafe, blamed Ms. Danna for her woes, saying she bungled all attempts to resolve the matter amicably, adding that she worsened the situation by going to court.
“The Assembly cannot do anything now because Hon Danna has gone to court to challenge her suspension. She is in court. Are you not aware? We recognize the doctrine of Separation of Powers and so the Assembly cannot do anything until the matter is disposed of,” Mr. Chinafe told PREMIUM TIMES on phone.
“There were a lot of discussions between the Assembly and Hon Danna to resolve the matter informally, not formally, please note this, but she went to court. So, there is nothing we can do about it.”
The Chairperson of the House Committee, Fatima Bello, told PREMIUM TIMES that the committee cannot act until it hears from Bauchi assembly.
“We have written the House twice, one was written last year and another one this year, but they did not reply us,” the lawmaker said.
Asked what step the committee would take to resolve the matter since the Assembly has failed to respond, Ms. Bello said “until they reply, we cannot do anything.”
She, however, regretted Ms. Danna has been on suspension for about nine months without recall.
But Mr. Chinafe denied that the State Assembly received any letter from the House of Representatives Committee on Women in Parliament, saying “We never had any correspondent from the House of Representatives on this matter.”
Ms. Danna, who is reportedly holed up in Abuja, refused to pick calls made to her telephone. She also refused to respond to a text message sent to her phone.