The House of Representatives yesterday ordered the full closure of the Kogi State House of Assembly pending the report of its mediation in the crisis rocking the Assembly.
The lawmakers in a letter directed the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Ekpenyong Ita and other relevant security agencies to ensure full compliance with its order.
The letter dated 30th October 2012 was signed by the Deputy Chief Whip and Chairman House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee to mediate in the Kogi State House of Assembly crisis, Hon Murktar Ahmed.
The same letter was also addressed to all members of the Kogi State House of Assembly and the Clerk of the House.
The lawmaker also directed the Clerk of the Kogi State House of Assembly and all other supporting staff of the Assembly not to recognize any group of members or its leadership pending the outcome of the Ad-Hoc committee’s mediation.
It could be recalled that 12 members of the 25 member Kogi Assembly had sat and ‘impeached’ the Speaker of the House, Hon Abdullahi Bello and other principal officers of the House.
The action of the 12 members has been variously condemned as illegal.
Analysts are of the opinion that the group did not meet the mandatory two third majority members of the House to carry out any impeachment exercise.
Ahmed insisted that full suspension of legislative business in the House has become necessary to prevent a breakdown of law and order in Kogi State.
A copy of the letter entitled: “Enrolled Order” which was sighted by our reporter in Abuja reads in part: “Having interacted with various segments, persons and members of the Kogi State House of Assembly and other stakeholders from Kogi State, it is clear and apparent that two groups of members of the Kogi State House of Assembly are claiming the leadership of the said Assembly.
“Pursuant to Section 11 (1) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), it is the opinion of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee to mediate in the Kogi State House of Assembly crisis that by reason of the prevailing situation, the Kogi State House of Assembly cannot legitimately perform its duty without the breakdown of law and order.
“It is therefore, hereby ordered that: All members should suspend all and any official legislative function pending the outcome of the Ad-Hoc Committee’s mediation.
“The Clerk of the Kogi State House of Assembly and all other supporting staff should not recognize any group of members or its leadership howsoever called pending the outcome of the Ad-Hoc committee’s mediation.
“The Inspector General of Police, the Director General of State Security Service and all relevant security agencies are hereby ordered to ensure full compliance with this order.
Meanwhile, efforts by the Kogi State Government to win over four members of the House in support of Bello from Kogi West was said to have met a brick wall.
Investigation revealed that a meeting to allegedly coax the four members to support the state government’s anointed Speaker was held at about 10.30pm on Wednesday at Chief Jide Omokore’s House in Maitama Abuja.
According to our source, those in allegedly at the meeting were the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Arch Yomi Awoniyi , Chief Omokore and Prince Olusola Akanmode among other political leaders from Kogi West Senatorial District.
The pro-Bello’s members present were Hon Henry Ojuola (Yagba East State Constituency), Hon Foluso Daniel (Mopa Muro), Hon Yori Solomon Afolabi (Ijumu) and Hon Abidemi Adeyemi (Yagba West).
Another top source at the meeting disclosed that the Arch. Awoniyi-led group requested the four legislators to withdraw their support for Hon Bello in order to confer legitimacy on the Speaker elected by 12 members of the House.
The source said: “The four lawmakers reply to the plea was that they were men of integrity and that they will not sell their integrity over a pot of porridge. They said they would rather maintain their integrity than capitulate.”
In a related development, ex-Governor Ibrahim Idris has waded into the crisis to ensure its amicable settlement.
A source close to the Bello camp however said they are not too sure of his moves.
The source alleged that it was the belief of the 13 anti-impeachment lawmakers that Idris has reached out to the Vice President to intervene in the matter.
He however urged the ex-governor and the Vice president to ensure that the right thing is done and the state house of assembly is returned to the path of constitutionality.
The source said: “We believe the ex-governor means well and we also believe the Vice President would use his good offices as the number two man in an administration that is championing the rule of law to overturn the illegality in the Kogi State House of Assembly.
Another source however claimed that Alhaji Ibrahim Idris was plotting to enlist Vice President Namadi Sambo to prevail on ‘sacked’ Speaker Bello to accept his fate.
When contacted, the Minority Leader of the ‘impeached’ principal officers of the House, Hon Yori Afolabi told The Nation in Abuja that the intervention of Idris is welcome so far as it would bring about justice, fairness and equity in the state.
He however cautioned that the current plan should not be a throw back to what transpired on January 30, 2012 when Bello was summoned alongside the present Governor of the State Idris Wada to Abuja and made to relinquish power to the latter in controversial circumstances.
It would be recalled that three days after the Supreme Court’s ruling that saw Bello taking over as acting governor of the state in January, Sambo and other leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) summoned Bello and Wada to the Villa and prevailed on him to handover to Wada.
He urged the two leaders not to condone illegality in the state but help to restore the state on the path of sanity and constitutionality.
He further enjoined the Vice President and the ex-Governor to mediate in a fatherly manner in the present crisis in the state as leaders of the party.
Afolabi said: “I don’t believe the Vice President would allow himself to be used because there cannot be a divided Presidency.
“Mr President is the number one crusader and exemplar of rule of law and at such they should allow the rule of law to prevail in Kogi.”