Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, over his recent defection to the All Progressives Congress, investigation has revealed.
The PUNCH learnt on Thursday that apart from his security details that were withdrawn by the Nigeria Police Force on Thursday, Tambuwal might be barred from entering either his office or the National Assembly when the House resumes on December 3.
This was one of the decisions reached during a meeting held by top officials of the Peoples Democratic Party which had in attendance President Goodluck Jonathan.
Tambuwal had on Tuesday adjourned the House till December 3 after he stunned his colleagues by announcing his defection from the PDP to the opposition All Peoples Congress.
But on Thursday, the Police authorities withdrew his security aides, citing section Section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended as reason.
The section reads, “A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if –
(g) being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected.”
A top Presidency source told one of our correspondents on the condition of anonymity that the legal advice before the Federal Government and the leadership of the PDP was that Tambuwal was no longer the speaker of the House in the eye of the law.
He noted that the speaker contravened section (68)(1)(g) by defecting when there is a subsisting court injunction to the effect that there is no division in the PDP.
According to him, the decision to strip Tambuwal of all the rights and privileges of the speaker was taken based on that legal submission.
The source added that the government and the PDP leadership resolved that instead of taking Tambuwal to court for defecting without vacating his seat, he would be the one to go to court when his rights are withdrawn.
He said, “The withdrawal of Tambuwal’s security details is in order. Section 68 (1)(g) made it clear that a lawmaker who defects when there is no division in his party shall vacate his seat.
“The legal advice is that the operational word there is ‘shall.’ That section of the constitution is self-
“There is a subsisting court injunction that there is no division in the PDP and that there is no merger.
“It therefore means that based on that constitutional provision, Tambuwal is no longer a member of the House. Since he is no longer a member, then he cannot be the speaker.
“The withdrawal of his security details is in order. He will even be stopped from entering his office. He is no longer a member of the House.
“Instead of us taking him to court, he will be the one to go to court.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had on Wednesday engaged some leaders of the PDP in a meeting aimed at taking a common position on the matter.
Those who attended the meeting included the National Chairman of the PDP, Adamu Mu’azu; the Deputy Leader of the House, Leo Ogor; as well as governors Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Ibrahim Dankwabo (Gombe); and Sullivan Chime (Enugu).
Top governmental officials who also attended the parley were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Muhammed Adoke (SAN).
Reps may defy Tambuwal
There were also indications that the House might reconvene within the next one week to take further actions over Tambuwal’s defection.
The PUNCH learnt that the decision to reconvene the House was also one of the outcomes of the meeting between Jonathan and some principal officers of the House and PDP leaders.
The principal officers were the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha; the Majority Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola; and the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
By enabling provisions, the House requires the approval of one-third of the total number of 360 members to reconvene the House.
A reliable source in the House, who confided in The PUNCH on Thursday, said, “What will happen is that about 120 members will sign and pass over to the speaker, asking that the House should be reconvened. That is what is going to happen in the next one week.”
Police action, ploy to bring harm to me –Tambuwal
While justifying the withdrawal of Tambulwal’s security aides, the Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, had in a terse statement in Abuja, hinged the Police action on Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The statement read, “In view of the recent defection by the Right Hon. Aminu Waziri Tanbuwal, CFR, the speaker of the House of Representatives, from the PDP to the APC and having regard to the clear provision of section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Nigeria Police Force, has redeployed its personnel attached to his office.”
Tambuwal however accused the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, of breaching the constitution by withdrawing his security aides.
He noted that by using Section 68(1)(g) as the basis for his action, the IG had assumed the powers of the Judiciary, the only arm of government empowered to interpret the constitution.
His comment was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Imam Imam.
The statement reads, “We are on authority that nothing in the 1999 Constitution nor the Police Act confers on the police force adjudicatory powers including the interpretation of the constitution.
“In any case even Section 215 of the 1999 Constitution does not contemplate the issuing of or compliance with unlawful orders by the President and or the Inspector General of Police respectively.
“What the IG has done therefore has no basis in law including the 1999 Constitution which he has cited. It is a brazen act of crass impunity, gross constitutional breach and contempt of court. The IG should desist from assuming or usurping the constitutional functions of the Judiciary.”
The statement added that the judiciary had long interpreted the section the IG quoted and concluded through two court cases that there were indeed divisions and factions in the PDP.
It said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the question of whether or not there is a division or faction in the PDP has been resolved by Lord Justice Faji of the Ilorin Division of Federal High Court in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/605/2013, in which the court held that indeed there were factions in the PDP.
“Again, in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/ 605/2013, the Sokoto Division of the Federal High Court per Justice Aikawa, the judgment of the court was that there was not only division but faction in the PDP, which later merged with the APC.”
Tambuwal further said the IG’s action was not only contemptuous of the courts, but also “a ploy to bring harm” to his person .
APC, SANs, others blast Jonathan, PDP
The APC, the Progressives People Alliance, and Senior Advocates of Nigeria on Thursday blasted Jonathan and the PDP for ordering the police to withdraw Tambuwal’s security aides.
Specifically, the APC charged Jonathan to show better understanding of democracy by restoring the police security details.
This was contained in a statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja.
According to the party, the withdrawal of the speaker’s security details amounted to the usurpation of the role of the judiciary by the IG.
The party said this was more so bearing in mind that the question of the interpretation of Section 68(1)(g) of the constitution on which the Police anchored its “illegal act” is currently before the courts for resolution.
The statement partly read, “For avoidance of doubt, the position, including the manner a person becomes the Speaker of the House of Representatives is to be found in the constitution, and no constitutional provision or legislation says membership of the ruling or dominant party in the House is a pre-requisite.
“Furthermore as the number four citizen of Nigeria, the security details and apparatus attached to the person of the speaker are not based on his lineage, person and or political leaning. It is on account of the position and the protection required for that position and in Nigeria’s best interest.
“The APC rejects this challenge to democracy and modern society. We reject President Jonathan’s illegality and call for respect and compliance with the law.
“We reject this meddling in the affairs of the Legislature, especially given the resolution of Jonathan and his close advisers yesterday at their meeting to ask the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, to unlawfully reconvene the House before the adjourned date.”
Also, the APC Caucus in the House described the withdrawal of the security details of the speaker as “incredulous.”
The caucus warned that Jonathan would be held responsible should any harm befall Tambuwal.
Its Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, said, “The NPF does not belong to the PDP. More importantly, the Executive cannot determine for the legislature, an independent institution and arm of government who will head it or who its speaker should be.
“This is the height of impunity. It is ironic that the institution that appropriates and gives money to the police is the same institution being denigrated and abused by the same police.”
While the PDP Caucus described the action as unnecessary, the speaker’s office said it was as surprised as Nigerians.
The Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, who spoke for the PDP Caucus, warned that there should be no external interference in the defection of the speaker.
Ogor said, “It is totally uncalled for. Let members be allowed to deal with the defection of the speaker by themselves.
“We are fully ready to handle it and I assure you that as soon as we resume, we will take care of it.”
Imam had before the statement he signed on behalf of Tambuwal, said they resumed on Thursday to find out that the police personnel attached to the speaker had been withdrawn.
“We came to work this morning and what we found was that all the security men did not report for duty. We are puzzled but that is the situation,” Imam stated.
The Progressive Peoples Alliance while condemning the withdrawal of security operatives, advised the House to challenge the action in court.
Its National Chairman , Mr. Peter Ameh, said, “There are people who were elected into the two chambers of the National Assembly and they left, where were the Police then? Did the Police withdraw their security details? Let us not take sides; the Police is meant for all, to protect every citizen of this country.”
Also, SANs like Femi Falana, Yusuf Ali and Emeka Ngige flayed the police action, saying it was against the law and portended danger for the country’s democracy.
Falana advised the acting the IG to immediately restore them, reminding him of previous judicial decisions cautioning the Police against taking sides with political interest groups.
He said, “The police orderlies were attached to the Speaker by virtue of his office and not on account of his office and not on account of his membership of the ruling party.
“The withdrawal of the orderlies by the police authorities is a partisan demonstration of abuse power.”
Ali said, “To become the Speaker of the House of Representatives is by election by members of the House. Once you are elected, unless the House comes together to remove you, you remain the Speaker. At this moment his is still the Speaker because the House is not in session. He adjourned the House as the Speaker. The Police cannot take it upon themselves to begin to interpret the constitution.”
Read the complete story and other related political issues from the Punch NewspaperSource,
Credits: Punch, Akin O’ore Oluwasinmi