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Group Cautions Oyo Speaker Against Suspending Colleagues

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An Ibadan-based sociopolitical group, Vanguard for the Defence the Rule of Law(VDRL), has cautioned the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Mr. Debo Ogundoyin, from suspending eleven (11) members of the state legislature.

This newspaper understands that there are underground moves by Ogundoyin to go against lawmakers, 11 of them, who are not disposed to his leadership.

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In a statement issued by it’s spokesperson, Mr Ogunmodede Ogunbamiwo, in Ibadan on Monday evening, the group decried the planned suspension of the lawmakers which was reported in various online news outlets in the state capital.

According to the group, “there is a plethora of judicial authorities against the suspension of lawmakers in Nigeria. The courts have held variously in Dino Melaye and Ors v House of Representatives, Ovie Omo-Agege v the Senate that a member cannot be suspended as same would amount to denying his constituency their rights of representation.

“In the famous case of Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly v Hon Rifkatu Samson Danna (2017) 49 W.R.N, which is the locus classicus on suspension lawmakers in Nigeria, the Court of Appeal made it expressly clear that the relationship of a Member of the House and the House is not that of a master-servant relationship, instead the Member is a representative of the people whose membership of the House is guaranteed by the Constitution and no other person or persons.

“In Danna’s case (supra), the Court of Appeal stated that the lawmaker, not being an employee of the House can neither be suspended nor denied any of his entitlements i.e salary and other allowances. The court while making a decision on the provision of section 111 CFRN 1999 held that :”The fixing of salaries and wages of the respondent lies within the province of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission under section 111 of the constitution, certainly not the 1st and 2nd appellants. The 1st and 2nd appellants (Speaker of Bauchi and the House of Assembly) have no right to interfere with the salaries and allowances of the respondent serving as a member of Bauchi State House of Assembly. No Rules or Standing Order of Bauchi State House of Assembly can derogate these rights and privileges conferred on an elected member of the House of Assembly.

“The Court further had this to say about the illegality of the suspension: “Any member of the Bagoro constituency could have timeously challenged the indefinite suspension of their choice representative in the Bauchi State House of Assembly on the grounds that their accrued rights had been violated or breached by the appellants. The conduct of the appellants is the tyranny of the majority against an elected minority of the Bauchi State House of Assembly”

“Flowing from the above, the Speaker is hereby cautioned to cease and desist from threading the path of illegality by suspending these members. While he may remove them from the headships of committees which they hold at his privilege, neither he, nor the principal officers or the House as an institution has the powers to suspend these individuals.

“Furthermore, we urge the Speaker to note that his approach to this storm in a teacup is capable of putting him in bad light amongst the comity of Speakers that he’s privileged to lead as Chairman.

“We hope that good sense will prevail. However, in the event that the House descends into the arena of infamy by engaging in any act of legislative rascality such as a kangaroo suspension, we will support the members and their constituents in their efforts to get justice through our legal system.

“A word is enough for the wise,” he said.

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