Nigeria’s Senate president Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki and speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara have described as “a desecration of the legislative sanctity” the on-going situation in Benue State in which eight out of 30 members of the state House of Assembly have commenced an impeachment process against the governor, and, with the support of the police, the 22 other members who constitute more than two-thirds majority are kept away from the Assembly Complex.
In a statement jointly signed by their aides in charge of media, Saraki and Dogara also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the police to order and stop them being used to achieve political purposes.
Saraki and Dogara stated: “We have monitored closely the development in Benue State in which the impeached speaker, Terkimbir Ikyange, led seven other members to serve impeachment notice on the state governor, Samuel Ortom, while the 22 other members who constitute more than two-third majority have been prevented from having access to the chamber. We believe this is illegality and does not conform to parliamentary procedure on impeachment.
“We also note with surprise the role of the police in this undemocratic event in which the minority is seeking to impeach a governor against the position of the majority. We believe it is the sacred institution of the legislature that is being desecrated and rubbished in all these negative developments.
“The situation in Benue State House of Assembly has grave implication for the nation’s democracy and it represents a throw-back to the period of dictatorship in our country. It also represents how the Nigeria Police are being misused to achieve political end. In a statement recently, the Presidency derisively referred to an era in the past where a minority number of legislators was used to impeach governors who were unfriendly with the federal government. What we are seeing in Benue now is a return to that inglorious era.
“We believe this unlawful and unconstitutional move to impeach Governor Samuel Ortom by a minority should be condemned by all lovers of democracy at home and abroad. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the police to order and prevent a breakdown of law and order. We also call on friends of Nigeria in the international community to lend their voice in condemning the perpetration of illegalities and actions that can subvert our democracy.
“There is already a tense atmosphere in Benue State following the recent killings. Nobody should encourage any action or move which may exacerbate the security situation in the north-central state. As leaders of the federal legislature, we are ready to work with our colleagues in both chambers of the National Assembly to prevent any attempt to destroy any state legislature or use it to derail democracy.”
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to Senate President
Special Adviser (Media and Public Affairs to Speaker, House of Representatives)
July 30, 2018
UPDATE: (1) The 22 other members have sat and suspended the eight other members carrying out the illegality.
(2) It is speculated that a plot is afoot to also “impeach” Saraki and Dogara by a minority of federal lawmakers who may reconvene, even though the Senate has adjourned until September 25.