Opinion: As Another Ebiraman Is Embarrassed From Kogi Assembly Speaker Seat

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I am still watching events as they unfold in our Kogi state and have refrained from writing for a long time but the recent repeat episode at the Kogi state house of assembly is worth commenting on.

I am not sure an Okun man or Igalaman would have been made to face the type of humiliations being mete on Ebiras in Kogi state.

First, it was Rt. Honourable Abdullahi Bello, now it is Rt. Honourable Momohjimoh Lawal. The two are the only Ebiras that have ascended to the seat of speaker, kogi state house of assembly since creation of the state. The two were illegally disgraced and booted out of the high seat in similar controversial circumstances. The question I ask is, is the treatment meant only for Ebiras? Okun man Clarance Olufemi was speaker for four good years without this type of treatment. Igala is yet to have a taste of the seat for well known reasons.

On October 17, 2012, 12 out of 25 members took laws into their hands and impeached the then speaker, Abdullahi Bello, his deputy (an Igala man) and all principal officials. They were clearly acting the scripts of the sitting governor Wada then. Aside the fact that they did not form quorum, the sitting was illegal in every form.

They had adjourned the next sitting to an agreed date so the Speaker and the principal officers were not around. The lawless lawmakers stole into the complex and carried out the illegal hatchet job with the full support of the executive. To avoid questions arising from the impeachment, they stopped assembly staff and journalist from observing the sitting. Now, who presided over the sitting? who moved the motion? What crimes did all the principal officers commit to warrant the mass impeachment? These are some of the questions that people asked then.

The Conference of State Legislatures of Nigeria, CSLN, several civil society organizations and leaders condemned the action. Abdullahi Bello fought hard, but the illegality was sustained in a way that can now be referred to as ‘Kogi Solution to Illegalities’. After weeks of horse-trading, on Wednesday, 21 November 2012, the embattled Speaker Abdullahi Bello ‘resigned’ from his job. Curiously, the sitting where his resignation was read was presided over by his deputy speaker, Emmanuel Omebije. Mr. Omebije read the letter of Mr. Bello’s resignation as the Speaker of the House with effect from November 21, for “personal reasons.” Bello lost out but his deputy retained his seat. Does that sound familiar?

Fast-forward to 2016. Another Ebiraman was speaker of the assembly and the new governor, also Anebira, supervised his humiliation. On February 16, 2016, some five lawbreakers stormed the kogi assembly complex and impeached the speaker and all principal officers. As at the date, there were 20 members in the House. The infamous 5 is greater that 15 legislative action was created with the active connivance and support of the sitting governor, Yahaya Bello.

The whole world decried the 5 is greater than 15 illegal impeachment. The courts reinstated  Momohjimoh Lawal and other principal office holders but the lord of the manor in lugard house will not allow the court judgement see the light of the day. The ‘new direction’ governor rather adopted the ‘old direction’ used by Wada. On 26th July 2016, Momohjimoh resigned and another person took over. The sitting where Momohjimoh’s resignation letter was read was presided on by his deputy speaker, Aliyu Aku (an Igala man). Momohjimoh was humiliated, his deputy and other principal officers retained their seat. New direction indeed.

We are already institutionalizing this obnoxious ‘Kogi Solution to Illegalities’. All future governors that will rule Kogi state now have a template of how to run the assembly.

My main concern, however is, why must Ebiras be humiliated everytime they hold important positions in Kogi state? I hope the governor is not primed to suffer similar fate? God forbid.

– Musa Adeiza writes from Okene


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