AGF faults Kogi House of Assembly’s closure

Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami

Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami

From the Attorney ‎General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami has come a piece of advice that the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, should un-seal the Kogi State House of Assembly that was shut down on the order of the National Assembly.

Mallami, in a legal opinion letter addressed to Arase, said mere legislative misunderstanding among the lawmakers should not be taken to be a major crisis envisaged by the constitution as what can lead to the action being taken by the National Assembly. According to Malami, the issues in the Assembly should not be compared to crises in the entire state that may lead to a state of emergency. He said all legal avenues must be exhausted in an issue involving ‎impeachment, noting that the National Assembly is to act as an advisory in the matter since the issue does not directly affect security.

The minister said the legal opinion was proffered pursuant to the request contained in IGs’ letter dated 18th March, 2016 in respect of the subject matter.

He further stated that a careful reading of the factual situation envisaged under Section 11(4) which can give rise to a “Take-over” decision by the National Assembly in respect of the affairs of a State House of Assembly reveals that it must be by “reason of the situation prevailing in the state.” This therefore, means that the conditions must go beyond the “situation prevailing within the House of Assembly” itself.

The AGF said: “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.”

Malami said “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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