AGF to IGP: ‘Unseal Kogi state House of Assembly’

The Attorney ‎General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has written a legal opinion to the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, asking him to unseal the Kogi State House of Assembly which has been on shut down for several weeks following the orders of the National Assembly.

The AGF stated that the action of the National Assembly was unjustifiable as mere misunderstanding amongst lawmakers should not be interpreted as a major crisis.

It would be recalled that the Kogi state House of Assembly has been involved in internal squabbles after a small set of lawmakers impeached the speaker of the house.

The National Assembly, thereafter, issued a directive to the police to seal the legislative chamber in the state.

The letter which was dated 18th March, 2016, stated that: “The Constitution, in my opinion, presumes that the general security situation in the state should have deteriorated to the extent that the House of Assembly finds it difficult or impossible to operate or exercise its normal legislative activities.”

“Section 11(4) is therefore, not meant to address mere issues of disagreement between legislators within the State House of Assembly, since it is recognized that such disagreements or disputes are normal incidences within the democratic governance space.”

“The 1999 Constitution therefore never presumed that every disagreement within a state legislature would be visited with the sanction of National Assembly legislative oversight.”

“It is instructive to note that Section 11(4) is part of the general Section 11 of the Constitution which is titled ‘Public Order and Public Security’. It must therefore be read within such a context and not merely in relation to the situation within the House of Assembly.”

“In view of the foregoing, the next question would be: Was there a security situation in Kogi State at the time in question which made it impossible for the State House of Assembly to exercise its legislative functions? From information available to me, it would appear that the answer to the question is ‘No’ as there was no such alarm raised by the relevant security agencies or by the Federal Government itself.”

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