Controversies Surrounding The Speakership of The Kaduna Assembly

The Kaduna State House of Assembly finds itself mired in controversy regarding its speakership after the nullification of the election of the former speaker, Dahiru Yusuf Liman, by the Court of Appeal in November 2023.

The court’s ruling mandated a rerun in five polling units in Makera Constituency, prompting concerns from the opposition and civil society organizations about the prolonged vacancy in the speakership.

Liman, who was elected on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform, faced challenges from Solomon Katuka of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who alleged irregularities in the electoral process.

Despite the court’s decision rendering Liman’s election inconclusive, investigative journalism by Daily Trust revealed that he had clandestinely retained the speakership position.

Efforts to obtain a response from Liman proved unsuccessful, as he was reported to be out of the country. Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission has scheduled by-elections for February 3, yet calls from the opposition for a fresh election to fill the speakership position remain unanswered, allowing Liman to persist in his role despite the court’s judgment.

During the current recess of House members, the budget presentation on December 18 by Governor Senator Uba Sani was received by Deputy Speaker Magaji D. Henry, who acted as the speaker.

Critics, including Jalal Jalal of the PDP, argue that the assembly’s continued operation without a legitimate speaker violates the constitution. Jalal emphasizes that the absence of a speaker should have prompted the assembly to shorten its recess and conduct a new election to fill the leadership void, asserting that presenting the 2024 budget without a legitimate speaker renders it illegitimate.

He further contends that the election of a speaker and deputy is not a joint ticket affair, as each is elected independently. APC chieftain Murtala Muhammad echoes these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of following constitutional procedures to avoid tarnishing the party’s image.

Murtala Abubakar, Chairman of Arewa Defence League, emphasizes the need for financial autonomy for the House of Assembly, urging lawmakers to elect someone with a clear mandate and not wait for the former speaker to participate in the by-election.

Contrarily, legal practitioner El-Zubair Abubakar argues that the court’s decision does not automatically vacate Liman’s position until the ordered election occurs. He asserts that nominating the deputy speaker is a natural step to prevent a leadership vacuum, maintaining the validity of the budget presentation under the deputy speaker’s interim role.

Abubakar explains that Liman remains the speaker until the re-run election occurs, emphasizing that only after this event can the house elect a new speaker.