Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Rules and Business, Albert Sam-Tsokwa, has said only the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is constitutionally empowered to declare vacant the seats of the 37 lawmakers, who defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress.
Lending his voice to the heated debate that greeted the ruling of an Abuja Federal High Court, which ruled that the lawmakers’ defection was unconstitutional, Sam-Tsokwa flayed the call by the PDP Governors’ Forum that the affected lawmakers’ seats be declared vacant.
He urged the forum to stop making pronouncements capable of heating up the polity and instead advised them to seek legal redress on the matter.
Hon. Sam-Tsokwa (PDP/Taraba) representing Donga/SSA/Takum/Special Area, spoke yesterday during the House of Representatives Press Corps’ Hot Seat series at the National Assembly in Abuja.
He said: “Let me begin by saying the court is not a Father Christmas. A court has no jurisdiction, a court has no right, a court has no power to give what is not asked for.
“Now, as to the next course of action, the constitution is very clear: that power (to declare seat of any member vacant) is vested in the Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives. No other person in Nigeria has that power, not even the court.
“If I am aggrieved that the Senate President has not done what he should or the Speaker has not done what he should have done, the only way we can involve a court is to go to the court and ask for an order of mandamus to compel him to do what the law requires him to do”.
The lawmaker dropped what could be considered a bombshell when he fingered most northern governors as the brains behind acts of terrorism bedeviling the country.
He based his allegations on the continuous violent clashes between herdsmen/farmers in many parts of Northern Nigeria.
He described the escalating conflicts as “a time bomb” which if not stopped, could transform into another Boko Haram challenge.
“Most of the problems we have are created by our leaders. And that was why in one occasion, I said I am of the opinion that most northern governors support terrorism. Because I see the attacks on farmers as a terrorist act. Not a conflict.
“You stay in your house, somebody comes to your land and begins to cause problems and destroy your crops. You complain and he brings out a gun, sacks you from that place and they call it conflict. What conflict is that? It is an act of terrorism.
“What we call farmer/grazer conflict is a kind of insurgency against the farmer. A grazer is a farmer, young cultivator is a farmer. Just as I cannot walk up to your land and begin to make heaps because your land is good and I want to plant rice there. A grazer too has no right to walk into my land no matter how conducive for grazing and begin to graze there. If he has no land, I have land. I have no animal. Come, buy my land, give me money and graze there.
“Today, these people (farmers) are helpless, a time will come when they will not be that helpless. That was how Boko Haram started. My advice is that the earlier we do something about it the better for us. Nigeria has enough problem on its hands. Let us not cause additional problems. Let’s handle the ones we have. We should be seen to be moving ahead rather than adding more and more problems for the country”.