Posted by News Express | 22 March 2020 | 544 times
The six-month suspension recently slammed on five members of the Kano State House of Assembly by Speaker Abdulazeez Garba Gafasa has been generating uneasy calm and raising questions.
The Assembly was thrown into chaos over the report of its committee that investigated allegations against Muhammadu Sanusi II, who was later in the week deposed by the state government as Emir of Kano.
The Speaker of the Assembly, at the resumption of sitting on March 16, said the five members were suspended for misconduct and violation of the rules of the House.
The suspended members are Garba Yau-Gwarmai (APC), representing Kunchi/Tsanyawa constituency; Labaran Abdul Madari (APC), representing Warawa constituency; Isyaku Ali Danja (PDP), representing Gezawa constituency; Mohammed Bello (APC), representing Rimin Gado/Tofa constituency, and Salisu Ahmed-Gwamgwazo (PDP), representing Kano Municipal.
Meanwhile, they have been questions as to whether due process was followed in the suspension of the lawmakers.
This is even as some observers have argued that the suspension was not a unanimous decision by the Assembly based on constitutional provisions.
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There were allegations that the leadership of the house acted the script of the ‘powers that be,’ in suspending the lawmakers.
It was reliably gathered that trouble started when a group known as Society for the Promotion of Education and Culture and one person submitted petitions to the Assembly, seeking the investigation of former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.
The petition by the group was signed by one Mohammed Bello, while the other one was signed by Mohammed Mukhtar Ja’en Yamma.
The petitions were read by the chairman of the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and member representing Sumaila constituency, Hamza Massu.
According to the petitions as presented before the legislators, the former emir should be investigated over his alleged nonchalant attitude, which they said was against the religion, culture and tradition of Kano people.
It was also gathered that the petitioners presented some videotapes as part of evidence to back their petitions.
Following the presentation of the petitions, the legislators deliberated and ordered the standing Committee of the House on Complaints and Petitions to commence action.
But shortly after the committee was mandated to commence the investigation, a member representing Dala constituency, Lawal Hussain (PDP), suggested that the content of the petition should be read on the floor of the House.
However, the Speaker briefly explained to him that according to section 3 (b) of the House rule, there was no need for further explanation of such petition in public. Ironically, one of the groups that allegedly submitted a petition to the House against the then Emir of Kano came out later to deny writing any petition.
It was gathered that residents of Ja’en community in Gwale Local Government Area of the state, who were said to have written one of the petitions, came out to dissociate themselves from the action.
The denial followed the initiated probe of the emir by the state House of Assembly based on the petition received from two different bodies, one of which was said to have been from Ja’en Yamma. Ja’en community, under the aegis of Ja’en Concerned Citizens Initiative, accused the Assembly of trying to use them to depose former Emir Sanusi for political reasons.
The community, in a statement dated March 6 and jointly signed by the chairman of the organisation, Tameem Bala Ja’en, and secretary, Ibrahim Yahya Ja’en, said: “We, the residents of Ja’en will never tolerate the humiliation or disgrace of any respected person in the society to achieve selfish political goals.
“In conclusion, Ja’en community remains loyal to the Kano Emirate and the Kano State Government. May Allah protect Kano from all evil plans and grant us peace and good health.”
The statement also revealed that the residents condemned the petition against the emir and challenged the Assembly to produce the petitioner if he really existed.
According to a source, the House agreed to deliberate on the issue, only for its leadership to ‘single-handedly’ change the date for the deliberation, which gave rise to the rowdy session.
However, amidst the disagreement on the matter on the floor of the House, the Kano State Government went ahead to announce the dethronement of former Emir Sanusi. It was after the dethronement that the leadership of the House announced the suspension of some members, accusing them of misconduct and violating the rules and regulations of the House.
“The five members were suspended for violating the rules of the House, especially Order IV, sub 4 a, b, d. They also disrupted the sittings of the House and prevented proceedings. They behaved violently and even attempted to snatch the mace, in a clear attempt to sabotage the House,” the Speaker said.
A source in the House revealed that the rowdy session, as seen by the public in a viral video, was as a result of the refusal of members to unanimously adopt a request by the executive on the dethronement of Sanusi.
The rowdiness started when a committee saddled with the responsibility to investigate Muhammadu Sanusi II, attempted to submit its report on the floor of the Assemby. According to the source, many members were of the view that there was a violation of the provision of fair hearing, and therefore, disagreed with the request; hence the rowdy session, which forced the House to adjourn its sitting.
The rowdy session was said to have ensued because some members suspected that the committee had recommended the dethronement of Sanusi without conducting a thorough investigation into the petition sent to the Assembly.
Reacting to the matter, one of the affected lawmakers, Garba Yaú Gwarmai, representing Kunci/Tsanyawa constituency, said they were not surprised at the action of the leadership of the House. According to him, the order 2 of the rule of the House was completely violated and due process was not followed in their suspension.
He, therefore, said their suspension was not valid, adding that they remained active members of the House.
“The allegation of misconduct against us ought to have been presented before the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
That was not done, and we were not given the right to fair hearing. We are representatives of our people and law-abiding citizens.
“What the leadership did was totally illegal; and as far as I am concerned, the suspension is invalid. Moreover, none of us received any notification to that effect. What was done to us was just a sign of the Assembly’s leadership deficiency,” he said.
A former majority leader of the House, who is also among the suspended members, Labaran Abdul Madari, representing Warawa constituency, described what happened as drama, saying the sections quoted by the Speaker as being violated had nothing to do with what happened.
According to him, Order 8 of the House rule should have been followed to the letter before any action is taken against any erring member.
“The Speaker came with his prepared speech and just made the announcement. It is a total violation of the constitution, as well as the House rules.
“As I speak to you now, none of us received any official correspondence informing us that we have been suspended. We are not in conflict with our political party or the Kano State Government. This is just our in-house crisis on the leadership of the House.
“Let me tell you that as far as we are concerned, we remain active members of the House,” said Madari. Speaking on the issue, a Kano-based legal practitioner, Jamilu Ali’u, said the step taken by the leadership of the House on the five suspended members was “unconstitutional and unjustifiable,” adding that the affected members have not been given a chance to fair hearing as stipulated in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
According to him, the affected lawmakers can approach the court to seek redress, just like in the case of the Deputy Senate President, Omo Ovie Agege. Attempts to get the reaction of Speaker Abdulazeez Garba Gafasa were not successful as he failed to return calls to his phone.
However, the commissioner for information in Kano State, Malam Muhammed Garba, said the state government was not responsible for what happened in the House as they have been operating independently.
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