By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The Senate has again tackled the Kogi State government on its alleged ignoble role in the ongoing recall process of Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, insisting that that the government was behind the senator’s ordeal.
This was even as the upper legislative chamber insisted that it has constitutional role to play in the process contrary to the position of the state government.
The Senate was reacting to a three-page advertorial published in some national dailies Thursday by the Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice in Kogi State, Ibrahim Sani Mohammed, where he kicked against Senate’s position on the recall process.
The Attorney- General had in the advertorial took exception to submissions made by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, last week during Senate’s deliberation on the recall process, the bulk of which was later taken as the Senate’s position on the raging issue.
He said: “A situation where the Deputy Senate President, would on the floor of the Senate, describe a lawful exercise of recall initiated by the good people of Kogi West Senatorial District as an exercise in futility or posit that the constituents are wasting precious time, is highly regrettable and condemnable.
“I must also put on record that contrary to the legal opinion of Senator Ekweremadu on the role of the Senate in the recall process, the Senate has no role whatsoever in the exercise than to receive the Certificate under the hand of the Chairman of INEC stating the provisions of sections 69 of the constitution have been complied with in line with sections 68(h) and 69 of the 1999 constitution.
“Indeed by the provisions of INEC regulations for the recall of a legislator, a legislator stands recalled upon INEC’s confirmation of a majority vote in favour of the recall”.
But the Deputy Senate President in his reaction to the Attorney-General’s submission insisted that the Senate had a very vital role to play in the process and questioned the intellectual capacity of the Attorney –General on the issues on ground.
Ekweremadu said: “This morning my attention was drawn to a three page advertorial by AG of Kogi State in some national dailies. I would have ignored him but because of his statement in the final paragraph but I must put on record that contrary to the legal opinion of Senator Ekweremadu on the role of the senate in recall process.
“He is saying that the senate has no role. I stand by what I said the other day and I would like to take him to Section 68(1h) and (2) to show him the role of the senate, which he says has no role.
“Section 68(1h) reads, ‘the President of the Senate or, as the case may be, the Speaker of the House of Representatives receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission stating that the provisions of section 69 of this Constitution have been complied with in respect of the recall of that member.
“That was the section the Attorney General was referring to but he mischievously refused to state the provisions of section 2 or probably out of Ignorance, he did not put Section 68(2) which states ‘the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, shall give effect to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, so however that the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House concerned that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of that member.
“I don’t know how he came to conclusion that we don’t have a role. I stand by my position. So, I pity the people of Kogi that hired this type of AG. It is unfortunate that we are paying a public servant and he is unable to do a simple work of looking at the constitution.
“Let me emphasise that this 68(2) is not part of the amendment we made to the Constitution. This has been the original provision of the Constitution, so we did not affect it. It has nothing to do with Dino Melaye or whosoever. We inherited this provision since 1999. It has been there.
In his own remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, concurred to the reaction made by his deputy On the constitutional right given the Senate in the recall process, and declared that the advertorial by the Attorney General clearly shows that the recall exercise against Senator Melaye was engineered by the state government.
“The Deputy President of the Senate came under Order 43 and according to our rules it cannot be further debated, but honestly I am concerned with the caliber of people holding very senior positions in the land. Even those of us who only have association with the legal profession by being married to one but we have learnt over the years to know that this is straight forward.
“What is even more disturbing and irresponsible is how the state government spent about N10 million on adverts. I have been a governor, when you file money for advert it is a difficult issue.
“This pretty much shows that it is government that is truly behind the entire process, when a government can go about and take an advert on an issue like this. This is a very simple matter in the constitution. You did not write it neither did you invent it, so DSP, you were just reading it as it is and you are right.
“As you said it is very unfortunate for the people of Kogi State to have such a person as their Attorney- General”.