Even as the House of Representatives is yet to resolve whether Speaker Patricia Olubunmi Etteh would step aside tomorrow or not, 212 members of the house have signed the impeachment register preparatory to force her out of office.
But leader of the Integrity Group, Hon. Farouk Lawan, yesterday insisted that the court paper served by pro-Etteh members to stop the house from disallowing Etteh from presiding over the Idoko panel report would not deter the group from following the due process that the speaker cannot be a judge in her own case.
This is coming on the heels of the call by Osun Leadership Forum on the speaker to vacate the seat in the interest of her image and democracy.
Records available to LEADERSHIP as at last Friday showed that 212 members have signed the register being coordinated by the Integrity Group.
But Hon. Ita Enang leader of the pro-Etteh group, chairman of the probe panel, Hon. David Idoko, Festus Adegoke, Duro Faseyi, Gbenga Elegbeleye, Friday Itula, Nkiruka Onyechukwu, Memuna Adaji and Gbenga Makonjuola dissociated themselves from the suit file against the house, house leadership, National Assembly clerk, and acting clerk of the house.
On Friday, leader of the Due Process group, Hon. Dino Melaye, went to court to prevent the opposition, including the house, from stopping the speaker from sitting and 58 members were listed as plaintiffs while the house, house leadership, Farouk Lawan and some members of the Integrity Group were listed as defendants.
According to the Integrity Group’s arrow- head, the court case has violated the peaceful resolution being canvassed by the PDP that appointed Alex Ekwueme, Abdullahi Adamu, Bode George and others mandated to resolve the matter.
Lawan said while the meeting was going on last Friday, the Due Process group was busy filing their papers on how to ensure that the speaker sat on the consideration of the Idoko report. He maintained that apart from the fact that the case has no effect of law, the group has contravened the agreement reached with the People Democratic Party, adding that the step has shown that the group has a hidden agenda.
According to him, the house rule is precise over the matter, that any matter that is before the house, it is the prerogative of the speaker but in this case the speaker is involved, therefore, there is no way she could rule on this.
At the reconciliatory meeting with the party, the two groups agreed that a speaker pro-tempore would be appointed when the time comes for the deliberation of the report, but that the speaker will carry on with the business of the day as usual.
LEADERSHIP reliably gathered that where a problem arose was over which group should a produce speaker pro-tempore. When the agreement could not be reached, it was concluded that each group would nominate a candidate that would be voted for as the speaker pro-tempore. The Integrity Group maintained that a speaker could not be trusted with the gavel, therefore, a neutral person should be appointed.
Meanwhile, two former speakers of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Aminu Bello Masari, have summoned a meeting of all former lawmakers of the house under the aegis of Former Legislators Forum today at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.
The meeting, which is scheduled for 7pm, is to enable the former legislators chart a way forward in resolving the current crisis in the house. A close aide of Masari who spoke to LEADERSHIP at the weekend said the meeting is “to discuss how to deepen and strengthen the parliamentary process in Nigeria”. He said the former house leaders were concerned over the protracted impasse in the lower chamber and are looking forward to a quick resolution of the crisis.
In a related development, the President General of the Osun Leadership Forum, Mr Ademola Oladele has called on the speaker to step aside for the deliberation of the report. The forum is calling on Osun indigenes, traditional rulers, party elders, political leaders, youth, students, market women and civil society to prevail on Etteh to step aside.
“We want people to talk to the speaker that she should not be used by retrogressive forces to drag the name of Osun State in the mud.
“To preserve the respect and dignity deserved by our state we advise her to honourably resign her speakership to avail her the opportunity of a better political future, instead of a possible impeachment option. In our own opinion as a broad aggregation of Osun State leaders of thought and socio-cultural organisations, time is overdue for our sister to step aside and allow her colleagues.”
The leadership of the PDP has summoned its members in the House of Representatives in a bid to resolving the lingering crisis rocking the house.
An earlier peace meeting last week involving the two factions which was at the behest of the party leadership ended in a stalemate, as both factions stuck to their guns.
Today’s meeting, which is coming on the eve of the reconvening of the house tomorrow, is expected to address all the grey areas in the resolution of the crisis.
A statement by the national secretary of the party, Chief Bernard Ezeh, said that today’s meeting will hold at 2 pm at the party’s national secretariat.
“The leadership of the party have been engaging the factions in the unfortunate impasse in the House of Representatives and we are happy to note that both camps have expressed a desire for an amicable resolution of the crisis.
“Toward this end, all PDP members in the House of Representatives are to last meet with the NWC on Monday, October 29, 2007 at 2pm as a follow-up to the last meeting,” the statement said.
– Leadership Newspaper