Is The Appointment of Hon. Eteng Jones as Special Adviser T Cross River Assembly Speaker Constitutional? By Okoi Obono-Obla
I was totally bewildered and flummoxed when I read on Cross River Watch online about the purported appointment of Honourable Eteng Williams Jonah, the member representing Yakurr State Constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly as a Special Adviser to the Speaker, Honourable John Lebo Gaul.
This is in view of the constitutional provision that says that where a member of the House of Assembly accepts an appointment in government during the currency of his tenure as member of the House of Assembly ceases to be a member of the House.
It beggars belief that the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly that is supposed to be acknowledgeable about the mechanics of constitutional law and constitutionalism would commit such an unpardonable blunder of appointing a serving member of the House of Assembly his Special Adviser!
The pertinent question is: Is the membership of Honourable Eteng Williams Jonah of the Cross River State House of Assembly still valid and constitutional in view of his appointment as Special Adviser to the Speaker of the Assembly?
The answer must be in the negative. It is well settled that a member of the House of Assembly loses his seat where he is appointed a Special Adviser to Government.
Section 109 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) provide thus: A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if –
(a) he becomes a member of another legislative house;
(b) any other circumstances arise that, if he were not a member of that House, would cause him to be disqualified for election as such a member;
(c) he ceases to be a citizen of Nigeria;
(d) he becomes President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governor or a Minister of the Government of the Federation or a Commissioner of the Government of a State or a Special Adviser;
(e) save as otherwise prescribed by this Constitution, he becomes a member of a commission or other body established by this Constitution or by any other law;
I submit that the Cross River State House of Assembly is part of the Government of Cross River State because it is an arm of that government.
There are three arms of government of the Cross River State namely the Executive Branch of Government.
The Executive Branch of Government is headed by the Chief Executive of the State, Governor Ben Ayade.
The second arm of government of Cross River State is the legislature (Cross River State House of Assembly). It is headed by Honourable John Lebo Gaul who is the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly.
The third arm of the Government of Cross River State is the judicial branch.
It is headed by The Chief Judge of Cross River State, The Honourable Justice Okoi Ikpi Itam.
It follows therefore that the appointment of Honourable Jones as Special Adviser to the Speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly is unconstitutional.
I make bold to submit that the appointment of Honourable Jones as Special Adviser to an egregious assault on section 109 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I therefore call on Honourable Eteng William Jones to vacant his seat immediately in the Cross River State House of Assembly.
Or in the alternative, the Speaker should immediately rescind the appointment and appoint someone outside the House of Assembly if he desire to have a Special Adviser.
In this milieu of change in the country, we cannot afford to accept such impunity that this appointment personified.