Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly engaged in a free-for-all on Monday over the appointment of sole administrators for 11 local government councils by Governor Tanko Al-Makura.
The free-for-all occurred on the floor of the legislature barely two hours after the governor inaugurated the 11 sole administrators. Glasses were shattered while tables and chairs were upturned in the violence that engulfed the House.
A faction that described the governor’s action as illegal was opposed by another faction that supported the action of the governor. Some legislators sustained injuries during the violence while some had their clothes torn.
Briefing newsmen at the legislative complex, a member, House Committee on Information, Mr. Makpa Malla, said that seats and tables were broken during the fight.
Describing the appointment by the governor as illegal, Malla said the Assembly could not continue to watch the governor perpetrate illegalities in the state.
He said, “As you can see, this is the executive room of the state House of Assembly, where we sit down every morning to discuss matters which would bring development to the state and the country at large.
“Categorically, I want to state here that the division which caused this chaos was as result of the appointment of the sole administrators by the governor. As a responsible legislature with some of us as lawyers, we insisted that the right thing must be done.
“The Section 7 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – as amended – guarantees a democratic system of governance at the local government level. The provision of the constitution is explicit on how the local government structure should be run.
“That is why we are kicking against the appointment of the sole administrators. Sole administrators only existed during the military era and as respecters of the rule of law, we must ensure that the executive must also respect the rule of law.”
Malla, however, urged the people of the state to remain calm and be law-abiding as the law would take its course in the matter.
Also speaking during the press conference, Mr. Abubakar Kana, an All Progressives Congress member representing Kokona-West, said there was no provision for the position of sole administrator in the laws of Nasarawa State.
He said this was the reason why the lawmakers kicked against the action of Al-Makura.
He said, “Where would the sole administrators derive their powers from? Who determines the tenure and salaries of the sole administrators? Sole administrators are not known to Nigerian and Nasarawa laws.
“If the sole administrators commit any offence, under what law would they be tried?”
Reacting, the Deputy Speaker, Godiya Akwashiki, who is a Peoples Democratic Party member representing Nasarawa-West, condemned the action of those who opposed the governor’s action.
He said the 24-member House would not be cowed by a few members who had gone on a campaign of calumny against the state.
Akwashiki said, “They accused some of us of receiving N50m bribe each from the governor. I want them to come out with proof. They should show the world the video to back up their allegations.
“Although there is the principle of separation of powers, we still meet with the governor when necessary. The meeting could be on his request or on our request.
“Last week Friday, the Speaker of the House wrote a letter to the governor, requesting that the House wanted to see him. The governor granted our demand by honouring our invitation. The governor invited all of us but only 17 of us attended the meeting in Abuja while others stayed back.”
Akwashiki said the false allegation of bribery was one of the reasons why a few members of the legislature opposed the action of the governor.
The deputy speaker said the lawmakers met with the governor over a court judgment which ordered that the tenure of the 11 council chairmen must not exceed two years.
He said the governor had to inaugurate the 11 sole administrators because of the security situation in the state, adding that on account of this, it would be wrong to fault the governor’s decision.
“We cannot afford to leave the councils without heads. The tenure of the former local government chairmen expired on March 24, 2016,” he said.