Crisis brews in Ogun Assembly over appointment of clerk

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There is disquiet among both career staffers and political office holders of the Ogun State House of Assembly over the appointment of a new Clerk.

The crisis became noticeable after the House Clerk, Adedeji Adeyemo, retired from active service in early March and the assembly refused to announce a name to occupy the office since then.

There are insinuations that the delay was to perfect a ground plan by the government to enthrone a non legislative staff member as the clerk of the house.

The most senior of career staffers in the legislative arm of government is a Clerk who acts like the Head of Service under the control of the executive arm of government.

The position of a head of service is subject to the appointment of the governor but must be picked among the currently serving senior civil servants.

Expectedly, the Assembly workers believed that the same should be their lot, as they hope to occupy the top office after investing many of their years in the employment of government in the legislative arm.

Meanwhile, like many other states in the country, Ogun State during the 8th House of Assembly passed a law and was assented to by the former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, for the establishment of the House of Assembly Service Commission.

By the law, the most senior legislative staff should become the House clerk at every material time.

Section 12(1) of the Law states that: “The Commission shall appoint (a) the most senior Deputy Clerk as the substantive Clerk of the House, subject to the confirmation of the House by a Resolution.”

Preliminary findings showed that the provisions of the above cited law has made the Deputy Clerks in Taraba, Zamfara, Delta, Osun, Bayelsa, Kaduna, Ondo, Kano, Cross River, Gombe, Lagos, Oyo and Ekiti to all become a clerk superintending over the affairs of the assembly workers upon screening and confirmation by the service Commissions.

Findings

A staff member, who doesn’t want her name in print over the fear of getting reprimanded, hinted DAILY POST that some senior workers of the assembly have approached the Speaker over the matter but got an unpleasant response.

“We went to him to complain about the delay in the appointment of a new clerk but he told us that it is whoever the governor chooses that he will accept and support as a clerk.

“But the question is, does the governor know what is happening in the assembly? Won’t he rely on the advice and recommendation of the Speaker?

“Is the Speaker not aware about why and how staff members frowned at the former speaker? We would be waiting because we have the State House of Assembly Law and a commission. They should please adhere to the law,” he said.

Four other legislative staff who spoke with this correspondent, all appealed to the authority to sustain the dictate of the law.

DAILY POST further gathered that the matter is currently tearing legislators apart, as some believe that the law of the House of Assembly Service Commission should be sustained, while others are of the opinion that civil servants who are outside the Assembly who are qualified by previously serving at the assembly can also become a clerk.

Court verdict

In 2020, Justice O.A Onafowokan of the Ogun State High court held that the law of the state House of Assembly should be followed as guiding principle in the appointment, promotion, transfer, discipline or exercise of any other form of control on any staff of the assembly.

The judgement, with the suit No: AB/227/2019, instituted by the State House of Assembly Service Commission had the state governor as the 1st defendant, State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice (2nd), Head of Civil Service (3rd), Civil Service Commission (4th ) and Clerk of the House of Assembly as 6th defendant.

In his judgement, Justice Onafowokan also barred both the Head of Civil Service and the Civil Service Commission in the state from usurping the powers of the Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission.

The judgement which was sighted by DAILY POST reads partly, “A declaration that by the provision of Sections 4(7) and 93 of, the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, (as amended) the Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission Law 2018 is valid and subsisting and ought to be obeyed by the 1st- 5th defendants.

“A declaration that by the provision of Section 93 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission Law 2018, only the claimant is empowered to appoint, promote, transfer, discipline or exercise any form of control over the 5th defendant or any other staff in the Ogun State House of Assembly.

“A declaration that by Section 93 of the Constitution and the Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission Law 2018, the 3rd and 4 defendants under the authority of the 1st defendant cannot usurp the powers of the claimant to appoint, promote, transfer, discipline or exercise any form of control over the office of the 5th defendant or any other staff in the Ogun State House of Assembly.”

Legislatures keeps mum

All efforts to get both the speaker of the House, Oludaisi Elemide, and the Chairman, House Committee on Communication, Olusegun Kaka, were unfruitful.

Both principal officers of the House were called repeatedly for several days but neither answered their calls nor responded to messages of enquiry on the matter.

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