The Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly and Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures, Mudashiru Obasa, on Sunday, urged the governors of Edo, Godwin Obaseki, and Bauchi, Bala Mohammed, to immediately resolve the crises that have engulfed the respective Houses of Assembly in their states.
Mr Obasa asked for the reversal of their proclamations of the Houses of Assembly in both states as well as the elections of principal officers adding that illegality should not thrive on the altar of perceived personal ego and interest.
He warned that the body would not recognise any speaker of a state legislature that emerges through fraudulent means or violation of the Constitution and Business Rules of the affected House of Assembly as the organisation cannot condone illegality.
In a statement personally signed by the Lagos speaker, he admonished the governors to adhere to the Nigerian constitution as well as the rules of the Houses of Assembly, which stipulate how principal officers should emerge. He also noted that no society can progress when its stakeholders are at daggers-drawn.
Mr Obasa frowned at the drama that happened recently in the Edo State Assembly where nine members would elect the principal officers in a 24-member House in an inauguration that allegedly held at 9.30 p.m.
In Bauchi, 11 out of the 31 elected members of the ninth House of Assembly also elected principal officers in what Mr Obasa described as “questionable manner.”
The crisis in Bauchi has led to the emergence of two speakers in the state as well as issues about litigations.
“A situation where a minority number in a State House of Assembly takes control of its activities over the majority is condemnable.
“No lover of democracy in the country should support the charade that happened recently at both Houses of Assembly. If we must make progress, we must work in an atmosphere of peace, love and unity.
“We must also all call on the governors to do the needful by reversing their actions and acting in accordance with the laws backing up the legislative arms of the affected states,” the speaker said.
Mr Obasa argued that even though Section 92(1), Chapter V of the 1999 Constitution simply states that there shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of a House of Assembly who shall be elected by the members of the House from among themselves, Section 98(1 and 2) clearly stipulates that voting must be by simple majority.
Specifically, Section 98(2) states expressly: “Except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, the required majority for the purpose of determining any question shall be a simple majority.”
While reacting to the injunction secured by the 11 members of the Bauchi House of Assembly stopping the majority in the House from parading their elected speaker and deputy, Mr Obasa cautioned the judiciary against unnecessarily meddling in the affairs of the state legislatures.
He said the injunction from the Bauchi State High Court was frivolous and must be stopped.
“Why should any reasonable court grant injunction in favour of 11 against 20? Why should the judiciary interfere in the business of the legislature which is supposed to operate on the principle of separation of powers?” Mr Obasa queried stressing that this was part of the discussions recently at a two-day conference on the implementation of autonomy for state legislatures and judiciary in Abuja.