Insists lawmakerâ€™s fate lies with senators
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate has condemned the role of the Kogi State Government in the proposed recall of the senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, and particularly expressed concern that scarce public resources are being expended on venture.
This is as the lawmakers maintained that the fate of Melaye would ultimately be determined in the Senate as stipulated by Section 68 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The Senateâ€™s position at plenary yesterday was adopted following a point of order raised by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who faulted the arguments contained in an advertorial sponsored by Kogi State Government on the subject matter.
The Attorney General (AG) of Kogi State, Mr. Ibrahim Sanni Mohammed, in advertorials published in several national dailies yesterday, said the Senate has no role to play in the recall process of a senator, other than to receive the certificate of recall from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mohammed had insisted that â€œby the provisions of the INEC regulations for the recall of a legislator, a legislator stands recalled upon INECâ€™s confirmation of a majority vote in favour of the recall.â€
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, presiding, said the position of the Kogi State AG confirms that the recall bid was being orchestrated by the state government.
He also expressed reservations at the argument of the AG.
â€œHonestly, I am concerned with the calibre of people holding very senior positions. Even those of us who only have association with the legal profession by being married to one, have learnt over the years to know that this is straight forward,â€ Saraki said.
He further added that it was disturbing and irresponsible that N10 million was allegedly spent for the advertorial.
â€œThis pretty much shows that it is government that is truly behind the entire process. When a government can go about and take an advert on an issue like this, it becomes worrisome,â€ he said.
â€œThere is a need for people appointed or elected to positions to show some level of responsibility. This is a very simple matter in the constitution. You did not write it, neither did you invent it. The Deputy President of the Senate only read it as it is. As you said, it is very unfortunate for the people of Kogi State,â€ Saraki added.
Ekweremadu, in his argument earlier, said the resources being used to sponsor the recall bid, can be deployed to pay workers salaries, which have been unpaid for several months.
â€œHe (Kogi Attorney-General) is saying that the Senate has no role. I stand by what I said the other day and I would like to take him to Section 68(1)(h) and (2) of the Constitution. It shows the role of the Senate, which he says has no role,â€
â€œSection 68(1h) reads: â€œThe President of the Senate or, as the case may be, the Speaker of the House of Representatives receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the INEC stating that the provisions of section 69 of this Constitution have been complied with, in respect of the recall of that member,â€ Ekweremadu said.
The Deputy Senate President observed that the AG mischievously, or out of ignorance, left out Section 68 (2) which reads thus: â€œThe Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, shall give effect to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section.
â€œSo however that the Senate President, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives or a member, shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House concerned that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of that member,â€ Ekweremadu argued.
â€œI am the Chairman of Constitution Review Committee of this National Assembly since 2010. So, if I am talking about the constitution, I know what I am talking about. I expect the Attorney-General, instead of him displaying his ignorance, to simply call me and I will educate him on the correct position of the law.
â€œSo I take exception to this and I believe that he needs to refund the amount spent on this to the people of Kogi. I call on the Kogi House of Assembly to institute an inquiry on who paid for this and find a way of getting the money back to pay the salaries of the people of Kogi State,â€ Ekweremadu said.