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Nigeria: Beyond the Chauvinism of Bauchi Legislators

| June 8, 2013 More

Almost a year ago to the day, June 7, 2012, members of the Bauchi State House of Assembly voted to suspend their only female colleague, Rifkatu Samson Danna. In the notice of suspension, the legislature said Mrs Danna’s ‘offence’ was her opposition to the legislature’s moves to relocate the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa local government from Tafawa Balewa to Bununu. Mrs Danna’s Bogoro constituency is in the Tafawa Balewa local government.

What apparently aggravated Mrs Danna’s offence in the estimation of her colleagues was her audaciousness in portraying them as a bunch of ignoramuses for trying to go beyond the powers conferred on the state’s legislature by the Nigerian Constitution in matters pertaining to the structure of local governments.

No one needs to be a constitutional expert, least of all any member of the legislature of a state in Nigeria, to be informed on the position of the law in respect of the name, structure, and location of the headquarters of each of the 774 local governments in the country.

These are matters enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution; they can be modified, not on the sole whims of a state legislature, but in an elaborate process involving the entire country.

These elementary rules should be at the tip of the finger of every lawmaker worth their salt. Just in case the Bauchi legislators somehow were not aware of these, Mrs Danna undertook the task of educating them, earning her the opprobrium of the speaker, Yahaya Mohammed Miya, and the anger of her colleagues, who slammed the indefinite suspension on her.

This arbitrary application of legislative rules is astonishing. Even more so when it is considered that the issue at stake had nothing to do with any serious breach of the law of the land or rules of the assembly.

Mrs Danna did the right thing when she followed the legal process, approaching the courts for redress.

It took months in coming, but the Bauchi State High Court reached its verdict at the end of last month, deciding in favour of Mrs Danna. The Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ibrahim Zango, overturned the legislature’s highhanded action on Mrs Danna, and ordered that she be reinstated.

But the legislators began to stonewall, mainly to evade taking responsibility for the mess that they had created.

When Mrs Danna returned to take her seat in the legislature early this week, she found the premises barred.

The Clerk of the Assembly, Malam Bala Abdullahi, told Mrs Danna that the legislature was not aware of the court’s ruling, and he had not been informed of any change in her status from the period the suspension was placed on her a year ago.

This was on a day that the legislators should be in session pondering on the many important state matters on their schedule; so where were the members?

Apparently her colleagues, aware of the court’s verdict and Mrs Danna’s imminent return to her rightful position, moved to head her off. The speaker moved the sitting of the legislature to his house on the Government Reservation Area (GRA) section of Bauchi.

This childish and unnecessary truculence on the part of the Bauchi State House of Assembly against one of its members is strange and condemnable, and should be brought to an immediate stop. It is tempting to suggest that the legislators harbour some disdain for Mrs Danna gender in their attitude towards her, otherwise, there is no reasonable ground to justify it.

Mrs Danna does not need a court’s say-so for her to regain her seat, because the legislators have not shown any cogent reason why they suspend her.

Mrs Danna should be allowed to take her seat without any further delay.

Category: Bauchi State News

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