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Kogi Assembly Most Conscienceless Legislature In Nigeria – Abati

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In Kogi State, Deputy Governor Simon Achuba chose to differ with his Governor. He got accused of all kinds of things which a House of Assembly in recess interpreted as “gross misconduct’ and then decided to put him up for impeachment and removal. A cash and carry House of Assembly set to work. The state Chief Judge was asked to set up a panel to impeach the Deputy Governor. A seven-man panel was indeed set up led by Mr. John Baiyeshea, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). The panel returned a verdict of not guilty on all the charges. What the Constitution says in Section 188, is that once the panel thus returns a verdict of not guilty on all counts, there shall be no further proceedings or process. The word “shall” in law is mandatory. It is a command. Still, in their wisdom, the House of Assembly in Kogi State, which is not even sitting, proceeded to sack the Deputy Governor.

If anyone is looking for a classical rubber stamp Assembly and the most conscienceless legislature in Nigeria’s democracy since 1999, Kogi State House of Assembly fits the bill. It has been more than a week since then and Kogi State is just hoping that this comedy of absurdity will disappear. It is a shame on all the people of Kogi State who have chosen to keep silent, and the most worrisome is that the Federal Government and indeed the National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation who is the chief law officer of the Federation by virtue of Section150 of the Constitution have all chosen to be quiet in the face of this brazen abuse of the letter and spirit of the Constitution thus setting a dangerous precedent for the continuous abuse of the Constitution, the very fabric that holds the nation together.

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It is a rape of the Constitution, a slap on the rule of law. Members of the Kogi State House of Assembly should cover their heads in shame for projecting themselves as law breakers and persons who do not have the interest of the nation at heart. But the biggest scandal is that of the Chief Judge of Kogi State, Nasir Ajanah. The biggest problem with the Nigerian Bar and Bench is the cancerous proliferation of a body of lawyers and judges who believes that justice is a mere slogan, who thinks equity is sheer nonsense and who behaves as if conscience is for the religious and not the legally minded. This is precisely what happened in Kogi State the other day. The panel set up by the Chief Judge in accordance with the 1999 Constitution reported back to the House of Assembly a verdict of not guilty on all counts. There is no way the Chief Judge could have claimed ignorance of this finding. Having been aware of this, the Chief Judge should not have gone ahead to commit an act of illegality by standing the Constitution on its head. It is not enough for him to claim that he is not a Father Christmas to act, suo moto, on a matter that had not been properly placed before him.

Simon Achuba should go to court. Whether the eventual determination would be academic or not, let him fight for his rights and put the matter on record. His seat is not vacant in the eyes of the law. Edward Onoja has merely usurped the seat of the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, illegally and without conscience. Political vendetta cannot replace the tenets of the law. The fact that other Governors also behave badly does not justify the reign of idiocy in Kogi State.

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When the Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello was elected in 2015, he was advertised as a poster boy for the No-Too- Young-To-Run Campaign. He was seen as the young man who would make a difference. He was the youngest Governor in Nigeria. But he has dropped the ball in the same manner in which one Elisha Abbo, youngest Senator in the 9th National Assembly (Adamawa North, PDP), has also dropped the ball. What’s the latest on Elisha Abbo? Young Nigerians want to be part of the governance process, but unfortunately, the ones who show up in the arena are the strange, unprepared types who gamble with the opportunities that they have been given.

Our belief that young Nigerians in politics will turn out to be change agents is defeated daily. Yahaya Bello, playing dirty games with the removal of his Deputy, does not deserve a second term in office. The people of Kogi State would be stupid to vote for him on November 16. The absurdity in Kogi State should not be allowed to stand.

The above is an abstract from opinion written by Dr.Reuben Abati.

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