The as­sault on Kogi As­sem­bly

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Many law­mak­ers re­port­edly suf­fered in­juries on Tues­day, Au­gust 1 when Hood­lums in­vaded the premises of the Kogi State House of As­sem­bly in Lokoja. Friday Sani Makama, mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Igalamela/Odolu State Con­stituency who was said to be the prime tar­get of the at­tack, suf­fered griev­ous in­juries and was ad­mit­ted in hospi­tal.

Makama, the As­sem­bly’s for­mer Ma­jor­ity Leader, is said to be a vo­cal critic of the state ad­min­is­tra­tion. He was at­tacked soon af­ter he re­sumed work at the As­sem­bly af­ter a High Court quashed a six months’ sus­pen­sion slammed on him by the As­sem­bly on March 28 for al­leged anti-party pos­tur­ing. Makama’s sus­pen­sion was widely be­lieved to have been mas­ter­minded be­cause of his anti-govern­ment pos­ture. In the judge­ment de­liv­ered on June 29, Kogi State High Court judge Jus­tice Henry Olusuyi held that the sus­pen­sion was an act of “leg­isla­tive in­so­lence.”

Makama re­turned on the same day that the As­sem­bly re­sumed from re­cess. The at­tack­ers forced their way into the gallery, de­stroyed chairs and used them as weapons to at­tack the leg­is­la­tors. The as­sailants re­port­edly ar­rived at the As­sem­bly premises in ‘of­fi­cial’ ve­hi­cles. The po­lice men at the As­sem­bly premises failed to stop the at­tack­ers. Even the ar­rival of the state’s Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Wil­son Inalegwu did not save the sit­u­a­tion as the thugs had vir­tu­ally un­fet­tered ac­cess to the As­sem­bly. Soon af­ter the at­tack, Speaker Umar Ahmed Imam an­nounced the in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion of leg­isla­tive ac­tiv­i­ties.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Inalegwu has since de­nied that he or Gov­er­nor Ya­haya Bello had a hand in the at­tack. The state’s Po­lice Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer Willy Aya said, “This re­port is not only false but unar­guably from the fig­ment of the writer’s imag­i­na­tion cal­cu­lated to ma­nip­u­late the mind­set of the pub­lic against the Kogi State Po­lice Com­mand. The CP, as a proac­tive mea­sure, de­ployed per­son­nel to the state House of As­sem­bly based on in­tel­li­gence re­port re­ceived of threat of break­down of law and or­der. The CP fur­ther reached out to the Speaker of the House to en­sure that there was no threat to pub­lic peace at the State House of As­sem­bly. Those who know the CP will never as­so­ciate him with such un­pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour.”

The whole saga took an­other di­men­sion the next day, Au­gust 2 fol­low­ing the abrupt res­ig­na­tion of the Speaker af­ter he re­con­vened the As­sem­bly. He was re­placed by Mr Matthew Ko­la­wole rep­re­sent­ing Kabba/Bunu State Con­stituency. Most of the prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers in the As­sem­bly were also reshuf­fled and the House im­me­di­ately ad­journed till Au­gust 15. The Kogi As­sem­bly has never known peace since its in­au­gu­ra­tion af­ter the 2015 gu­ber­na­to­rial election. That election was equally plagued with con­tro­versy fol­low­ing the death of APC’s can­di­date Prince Abubakar Audu, who died while the polls were in­con­clu­sive and APC chose Al­haji Ya­haya Bello to re­place him. Soon af­ter Bello emerged as gov­er­nor, he forced the As­sem­bly’s Speaker Mo­moh Ji­moh Lawal to re­sign on July 26, 2016 be­cause they came from the same sen­a­to­rial dis­trict. It is not sur­pris­ing that Ahmed Imam had to suf­fer the same for­tune as his pre­de­ces­sor. Those be­hind the lat­est cri­sis re­port­edly felt Imam was be­ing “too propeo­ple” and sup­port­ing civil ser­vants’ ag­i­ta­tion in the state.

Prior to the in­ci­dent, the State As­sem­bly had on Thurs­day, July 28 di­rected the state’s Ac­coun­tant Gen­eral, act­ing Head of Ser­vice, Com­mis­sioner for Fi­nance and the Chair­per­son of the State Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Board (SUBEB) to ap­pear be­fore it and ex­plain the ac­cu­rate num­bers of the state’s work­force that have been cleared and paid salaries from June 2015 till date. This fol­lowed a mo­tion by Musa Ji­moh Omi­ata (APC Yagba East), who ob­served that de­spite bailout and Paris Club re­fund, most Kogi work­ers claimed they were be­ing owed as much as 15 months’ salaries.

So far, none of the mis­cre­ants that at­tacked the Kogi As­sem­bly has been ar­rested. We urge the po­lice to speed­ily ap­pre­hend and pun­ish the cul­prits and charge them to court while we urge state gov­er­nors to re­spect the sanc­tity and in­de­pen­dence of leg­isla­tive arms of govern­ment.

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