The crisis rocking the Kaduna State House Assembly took a new dimension on Tuesday following the declaration of the seat of a former Speaker of the parliament, Aminu Abdullahi Shagali (APC, Sabon Gari constituency) vacant over alleged absenteeism.
The assembly, at its sitting on Tuesday, noted that the former speaker has not participated in its activities for over 120 days as prescribed by law.
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The lawmakers unanimously adopted the motion moved by Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed (Zaria Kewaye).
The house also extended the suspension of four other members of the house for 12 months.
The decision was taken during a plenary presided over by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Isaac Auta Zankai.
The four members whose suspensions were extended are Mukhtar Isa Hazo (Basawa constituency), Salisu Isa (Magajin Gari constituency), Nuhu Goro Shada Lafiya (Kagarko Constituency) and Yusuf Liman (Makera Constituency).
The parliament directed the clerk to communicate its resolutions on the matter to all the affected lawmakers.
It could be recalled that Shagali had on February 25 last year resigned as speaker, citing ‘personal grounds, leading to the emergence of Yusuf Zailani the present speaker.
On June 11, there was a free-for-all at the parliament, following an attempt to effect leadership change. The fracas led to the suspension of the lawmakers involved.
I’ll seek legal redress — Shagali
Contacted, Shagali said the house did not have the right to declare his seat vacant, adding that he would seek legal redress.
“I did not decamp to any political party and there are certain criteria before any seat can be declared vacant. Their argument for declaring my seat vacant cannot stand in a court of law.
“We are going to court to seek redress because I’m still an APC man and it’s in the 1999 Constitution of the country as amended that if you decamp from your party to another party your seat can be declared vacant. So for me, I’m still in APC. I don’t think they have the powers to declare my seat vacant. So we are going to court,” he said.
Responding, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) explained that although a member of the House of Assembly could be removed if, without just cause, he is absent from meetings for a period amounting in the aggregate to more than one-third of the total number of days during which the House meets in any one year.
He said the provisions of Sections 92 (2) (c) and 109 of the constitution are relevant in resolving the issue.
Also reacting, Yusuf Buhari Esq said there are a mandatory number of days which a member of the Senate, House of Representatives or state assembly must be in attendance
But he added that failure to fulfil the mandatory attendance, the speaker will declare the particular seat vacant. And subsequently, request the INEC to conduct an election. The INEC has up to 90 days to conduct the election.
“But the conditions for the declaration of the seat vacant must be beyond his power, either by reasons recognised by law or operations of happenings that frustrated his ability to make himself available. It must not be of deliberate orchestration,” he said.