Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives says a court case prevented him from acting on the letter of the All Progressives Congress leadership, nominating principal officers of the House
YAKUBU Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives, on Sunday, June 28, said that a court process instituted by 30 All Progressives Congress, APC, members stopped him from acting on a letter from the party’s leadership, nominating four principal officers for the lower chambers of the National Assembly.
Dogara said that the court process by some aggrieved lawmakers was based on the constitutional provision on federal character created the problem for him to act on the APC letter.
However, he accepted responsibility for the fracas on floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, June 25, and promised that a lasting solution would be proffered before resumption from the four-week recess to the satisfaction of all parties and Nigerians.
Dogara, who spoke when he received the Forum of Former Members in his office said: “There was a court process served on the leadership of the House. What they are alleging is very simple: whether it is in accordance with the constitution of Nigeria and the House rules that a political party has the right to choose the principal officers of the House.
“The second question is: assuming the political party has the right, whether it is in tandem with the constitution to exclude their zone, whether that meets the requirement of the provision of the federal character.
“There are issues of law, issues relating to court, issues relating to the provisions of the Constitution.
“Now the precedent that we saw not too long in the House is that anytime we have such audacious report, we have always run away from trying to force that.
“By this, let me just explain: assuming we go ahead to announce the party’s position, which recognises members of the North-Central as principal officers position and most of the members from the Southwest as principal officers and then the North-Central members made a very strong allegation against the APC.
“Assuming they win the case and the court rules that that the directive of the party breaches the provision of the constitution relating to federal character, so do we now begin to see somebody vacating his principal official position so that we can accommodate the court’s ruling?
“So, these are issues that are really not easy to fathom or to sort. When we got this letter, we raised this issue with the party, that there is the need for us to look at it so that we don’t get a ruling that will compel us to go back and enforce the alignment.
“We said the best thing is, in order to avoid this, let’s circulate the positions to the zones in the House.
“There has never been a time in the House when a zone got more than two leadership positions and we all know the provision of the constitution which did say that all positions must be guided by the standing orders.
“But in a situation where the standing order is not explicit or is not provide for, then we provide that the use of precedent, customs, the tradition.
“So, that therefore means even though the law does not say distribute the position to six zones, but the tradition has been that it should go to the six zones in line with the constitutional provision relating to the federal character. So this is the bone of contention.
“But, as leaders, we are bound by the constitution and when we got that directive from the party, we said that we must defend the constitution, we must enforce our rules and whether we have it would have harmful effect on the constitution of Nigeria for us to adopt the position of the party.
“This is because certainly, we have to be aware of the gravity of the constitution.
“That is where we are and that is what we are discussing.
“It was an ongoing discussion relating to this that certain sections of our members felt ‘well whatever it is let the House know, that the party is supreme’ and so that was what led to the near fracas which we witnessed on the floor of the House.”
Dogara apologised, saying amends would made to restore a peaceful atmosphere in the House in order to discharge its responsibilities to Nigerians.
“We would make the platform through which we can ventilate the wishes and aspirations of our people. I have accepted responsibility for everything that transpired and we apologise to the nation,” the speaker said.
The group, led by Dauda Bundot and Jonathan Asake said its visit was in solidarity with Dogara.
— Jun 29, 2015 @ 15:40 GMT