Nine months after her suspension, a member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Hon. Rifkatu Samson Danna, has dragged the Assembly to court to seek the restoration of her seat.
The lawmaker is also seeking N30 million as general damages.
Danna, the only female member of the 31-seat parliament, is asking the state High Court to declare her indefinite suspension illegal and unconstitutional, claiming that it violated Sections 109-110 of the 1999 Constitution.
The member representing Bogoro constituency, is also urging the court to set aside her purported indefinite suspension as well as directing the Speaker and the Assembly to pay her outstanding salaries, constituency and committee allowances from the day of her suspension and restoring her official vehicle and security details forthwith.
Danna, who is the only Christian member of the Assembly, was placed on indefinite suspension on June 7, last year following the report of the House Committee on Anti-corruption, Ethics and Privileges which found her remarks during a parliamentary session “repugnant and derogatory.”
During a debate on the proposed relocation of Tafawa Balewa Local Government headquarters from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu, Danna, a lone voice, explaining that the headquarters of local governments listed in the constitution could not be changed without constitutional amendment.
Tafawa Balewa, which is recognised by the 1999 Constitution as the local government headquarters, is dominated by Christians, while Bununu is a predominantly Muslim community.
While making her point, Danna, who was first elected into the Assembly in 2007 and re-elected two years ago, had said the unanimous and hurried manner in which the decision was reached suggested that there must have been a meeting on the matter to which she was not privy.
That statement was considered derogatory to the assembly and Danna, who is also the only Christian member, was made to apologise verbally and in writing. Despite her apologies, and the recommendation of the investigating House Committee that she should either be suspended indefinitely or be issued a letter of warning, the House passed a resolution placing Danna on indefinite suspension and withdrawing her privileges.
Tension had reportedly mounted in the area since the relocation with claims of killings made by religious groups.
Danna made a formal complaint to the Speaker, Hon. Yahaya Mohammed Miya, accusing him of bias particularly since the order subjecting her to a written apology came from him, a decision that is contrary to the recommendations of the investigating committee and a violation of Order 6 Rule 10(1 and 2) and Rule 11 of the parliamentary Standing Orders.
She further wrote: “Above all, your action clearly indicates that the committee’s recommendations were not acceptable to you as a person or that your own singular individual ideas supersede those of the committee. In plain words, Sir, you have said by your action that the committee did not know what it did or that they did nothing.”
Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Zango has fixed hearing for April 12.