ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION ON THE EDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY/NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CRISIS.
By Monday Ubani
NOW that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has toed the line of the Federal House of Representatives of Nigeria in ORDERING the State Governor, His Excellency Godwin Obaseki to RE-ISSUE the letter of Proclamation to the State House of Assembly within a period of one week OR RISK THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY taking over the LEGISLATIVE FUNCTION OF the State House of Assembly, it is obvious that contrary to wise counsel in my last write-up, this matter has defied Political Solution.
I am reinforced by this line of thought due to the prompt response of the State Governor to the DIRECTIVE of the Senate by insisting that the National Assembly is clearly in breach of the principles of federalism and separation of powers by issuing this directives.
According to him, the National Assembly cannot, and will not dish out orders to the State Governor in a federation contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
Indeed the provisions of the constitution was very specific as to the level of intervention or involvement of the National Assembly in the State where the State House of Assembly cannot be in a position to enact laws for the good order, governance and peace of that State.
My observation and conclusion, I may be wrong, is that this crisis will eventually BE DECIDED BY THE NIGERIAN COURTS.
Whenever this matter finally comes to court OVER THE ORDER (Federal House of Representatives and the Senate concurrence) that the Edo State Governor SHOULD ISSUE A FRESH PROCLAMATION for the inauguration of the State House of Assembly, there are pertinent ISSUES THAT WILL BE BEGGING FOR DETERMINATION and they are as follows:
1. Was the initial proclamation letter of the State Governor for the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly in order? Was the content of this letter supposed to be made known to all the members-elect before the inauguration?
2. Was the inauguration of that State House of Assembly in compliance with laws and legislative practice? Was there quorum for the business of that day?
3. Was the speaker who was elected at the inauguration of the Assembly in accordance with the constitution?
4. Was there anything wrong with the dress code of some of the members and the alleged time within which the inauguration took place?
5. What is the legal implication of the injunctive order restraining the National Assembly from interfering in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly before this directive?
6. What is the legal implication of the order given independently by the Federal House of Representatives ordering the governor to issue a fresh letter of proclamation for the inauguration of the House of Assembly?
7. What is the legal implication of today’s directive of the Senate to the State Governor to issue a fresh letter of proclamation?
8. Can these independent acts and directives of the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate be regarded as the action of the National Assembly in accordance with Section 11 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended?
9. Can this directive or Order of the National Assembly be accommodated under Section 11 of the 1999 Constitution as Amended which specifically makes provision for the National Assembly to take over legislative functions and the conditions for taking over such functions?
10. If the Governor refuses and or neglects to issue the fresh proclamation letter as mandated by the “National Assembly” within one week, and the National Assembly takes over the legislative functions of the State House of Assembly as threatened, HAS THE CONDITIONS FOR TAKING OVER AS PRESCRIBED BY THE CONSTITUTION, specifically Section 11(5) been met? That subsection provides that IT IS ONLY WHEN THE STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY CANNOT HOLD MEETINGS AND TRANSACT BUSINESS WILL THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HAVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO TAKE OVER THE LEGISLATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY. Of note is the provision therein that their power to take over the functions of the State House of Assembly does not include any act or law that will remove the Governor, his or her deputy.
These Issues for Determination may not be exhaustive, but I think that these issues as raised above will be the major issues for determination at the various courts including the Supreme Court WHENEVER THE POWERS OF THE JUDICIARY IS INVOKED OVER THIS “DANCE OF DEATH” THAT HAS PRESENTLY ENGULFED “THE HEART BEAT OF NIGERIA”.
AS APC, the National Assembly, the Edo State and the major stakeholders have jettisoned wisdom over this crisis, I WISH THEM GOODLUCK.
Ubani, is a legal practitioner and former Vice president of the NBA.