Withdrawal Of Tambuwal’s Security Aides And The Culture Of Impunity By Inibehe Effiong
On Tuesday, October 28, 2014, the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal formally announced his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the plenary of the House.
The newly confirmed Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, ordered the withdrawal of the official police security aides attached to Mr. Tambuwal on Wednesday October 29, 2014-a day after his defection, allegedly in compliance with Section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) are said to have followed suit.
I have read a lot of uninformed and indefensible commentaries on the effect of Mr. Tambuwal’s defection from the ruling PDP to the opposition APC. Some have argued that by defecting to the party in the minority, Tambuwal has lost his office as Speaker.
Others have contended that it is morally wrong for Tambuwal to defect to the APC without first resigning as the Speaker. This line of reasoning is not only deceitful and hypocritical, but a desperate attempt to rig history.
There is no singular provision in either the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act Cap. L12 LFN 2004 or even under the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives that states that the Speaker of the House shall come from the party with the majority of members in the House.
Based on political practice, it is usually in a parliamentary system of government that the political party with the majority of members usually produce the head of the parliament and form a government. Even in countries practicing parliamentary system, instances abound where political parties have to form a coalition for the emergence of the head of the legislature to be achieved.
On the other hand, presidential system erodes the influence and role of political parties in the emergence of the head of the parliament, thereby giving much leverage to the members of the parliament to individually and independently elect the principal officers without much regard to the interest of their respective political parties on whose platform they were elected.
How can we forget so soon? This is the same Tambuwal whose speakership aspiration the same PDP never supported. PDP never made him Speaker. As a matter of fact, his election was an act of revolt against the PDP which had preferred Mrs. Mulikat-Adeola Akande- the current Majority Leader of the House to be the Speaker.
Tambuwal was elected Speaker by his colleagues because of his charisma and acceptability, not really because he was a member of the PDP. So what is the ongoing cacophony about? PDP cannot eat her cake and have it. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands and he who seeks equity must do equity.
By the provisions of Section 50 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Speaker of the House of Representatives can ONLY vacate his office-
(a) if he ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives otherwise than by reason of a dissolution of the House; or
(b) when the House first sits after any dissolution of that House; or
(c) if he is removed from office by a resolution of the House by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that House.
For Mr. Tambuwal to be validly removed from office, at least 240 (which is the two-third of the 360 members of the House) will have to vote in favour of his removal. Anything other than this is and will be nakedly unconstitutional, null and void.
It is only a court of competent jurisdiction that have the power to make a pronouncement on the constitutionality of Tambuwal’s defection. Whether the much cited provisions of Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution is in favour or against his defection is exclusively for the court to say.
It amounts to a violent rape on the letters and spirit of the 1999 Constitution for the Inspector General of Police to declare the office of the Speaker vacant; it is clearly an arrogant usurpation of the judicial powers of the courts under Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution and it should not go unchallenged.
Were Nigeria a sane country where rule of law prevails over tyranny, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, would have honourably tendered his resignation having displayed a clear political partisanship which is unbecoming of his office as the head of the nation’s primary security agency -the police.
But then, this is Nigeria where any idiot can just wake-up and do whatever he or she likes with atavistic impunity. A country where the law is disregarded and violated by those who swore to uphold it.
This is not about Mr Tambuwal
or the APC, I have no links with either of them. This is about the ongoing threats against our nascent democracy. We deserve a police system that does not dance to the primordial melodies of the powers that be. We cannot continue like this as a nation.
President Jonathan should see maintenance of law and order as his responsibility. He should rise above pettiness and egregious considerations. Jonathan should be reminded timely that his oath of allegiance is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not to his party. We have had enough of impunity under his presidency and the time to stop it is now.
The security aides of Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be restored immediately. Should anything happen to him, there will be no guessing as to those responsible.
The Time to end this unholy culture of impunity is now.
Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist. He can be reached via-
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