By Ralph Madugu
Following the lingering leadership crisis rocking the Plateau State House of Assembly, the Plateau Initiative for the Development and Advancement of the Natives, PIDAN, has cautioned politicians in the state, especially members of the State Assembly, to adhere to the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution and the House rules on the conduct of the business of the House, so as not to further jeopardize the fragile peace on the Plateau.
In a statement signed by its President, Prof Aboi J. K Madaki and Secretary General Comrade Nanle Gujor, PIDAN said “We have watched closely the activities of the House since the politics of changing the leadership of the House began on Friday the 29-10-21 including the strange security architecture at the assembly on that fateful Day.
“We have equally examined the arguments put forward by those against and those supporting the need for change in the leadership of the house. We equally looked at the constitutional provision for change in such leadership and the house rules on the modus operandi for effecting such a change.”
PIDAN added that the crisis had clearly shown that the lawmakers had not followed the rule of law and due process in their attempt to change the leadership of the House.
The organization stated that it was appalling that those elected to make laws for a peaceful Society were now subverting the rule of law and the House’s due process.
While cautioning the lawmakers to follow due process in changing the leadership of the House, PIDAN advised them to allow the Speaker, Hon. Nuhu Abok, to reconvene the sitting of the House to allow members decide on who to lead them.
“We take exception to situations in which the law enforcement agents prevent bonafide members of the legislature access to the legislative chambers during the hours of their duties.
“They should equally not allow legislators access to the legislative chambers outside the prescribed period for which the House conducts its legislative duties.”
While urging Plateau citizens especially the youth, religious leaders, traditional leaders and elders to grant the legislature the necessary support to enable it discharge its duties efficiently, PIDAN called on party leaders to guard their utterances on the current crisis, noting that the House of Assembly belongs to all parties.
PIDAN, while appealing to Gov. Lalong to ensure that the Executive arm of Government provides a balance level playing ground that would enable the House strengthen its leadership and discharge its functions effectively, it called on politicians on the Plateau to exercise caution so as not to plunge the State into another round of civil unrest.
“We look forward to the quick resolution of the crisis in the Plateau House of Assembly which we believe is essential for strengthening the fragile peace on the Plateau.”
Similarly, the Middle Belt Journalists Forum (MBJF) has called for calm and a return to democratic norms in the Plateau State House of Assembly.
The umbrella body of practicing journalism in the Middle Belt made the call in a statement signed by its President, Jonathan IPAA and National Secretary, Mrs Oikeke Igado-Kure, in Abuja.
The MBJF also condemned the impeachment of the Speaker, Hon. Ayuba Abok, and replacement with a new leadership by six out of the twenty-four state lawmakers, saying, that Plateau State could not afford further escalation of crisis.
Describing the purported impeachment as a “legislative coup”, the MBJF urged Plateau State elders to intervene by restoring peace back to the House of Assembly.
“We see the crisis as a continue desecration of democracy on the Plateau which is another ploy to deny Plateau people their legitimate democratic rights in the name of internal party interest while the larger majorities remain in the trenches.
“We appeal to Plateau elders to as a matter of urgency, intervene against this legislative coup.”
The body of media practitioners also called on the House of Representatives to immediately take over the affairs of the state legislature pending the restoration of permanent peace.
While calling on Governor Simon Bako Lalong to “play safe with the fragile issue by allowing democratic norms to reign through the expression of the majority no matter what their political differences or interests”, MBJF cautioned that Plateau people not be allowed to suffer further crisis having gone through what it termed “subjective communal crisis”.
Meanwhile, a group, under the aegis of Plateau State Youth Ethnic Nationality has called on its members and the people of Plateau State to remain calm in the face of what it tagged “a legislative in-house challenge that could be settle within the context of House Ethical Legislative core values.”
In a statement signed by its State Chairman, Comr. Samson Lohnan and State Publicity Secretary, Amb. Duwam Bosco, they stated that if the law makers would be in disarray due to divisions of interests for long, the rights of citizens may be adversely affected, adding that it was common for law makers to disagree and agree among themselves but not to the extent of attempting to polarize the house.
The group warned that the independence of the three arms of government in Plateau State should not be seen as an experimental principle at the detriment of the people, stating that there was no problem that was worth dividing members as God sometimes uses circumstances to develop our character and not to divide us.
The group opined that Plateau people need unity and peace as they were “hungry for development”, adding that “if any individual or groups of persons deriving pleasure in causing crisis in the house for whatsoever reason, they should know that even if they refuse or reject the citizens’ message, they will be defenseless against the prayers of the peace loving people of the state.
“The twenty- four matured minds in the state house of Assembly should reconfigure their conscience for the interest of Plateau State and the electorates of their various constituencies. Leadership is the test of trust measured by time not by violence.”