The suspension by the Bauchi State House of Assembly since February 2012 of the only female member of the House, Hon. Rifkatu Samson Danna, for voicing out her peoples’ opposition to the unconstitutional transfer of the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area from Tafawa Balewa town has been faulted by a democracy inclined non-governmental organization, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.
HURIWA has therefore asked the Bauchi State House of Assembly to reinstate and recall Danna, representing Bogoro constituency, without any further unjustifiable, unconstitutional and morally indefensible delay.
Besides, HURIWA has also tasked the Bauchi State Governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, to use his good offices to plead with the leadership of the Bauchi State House of Assembly to recall the only female member of the legislative House immediately.
Danna, a Christian and the only female member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, was suspended following her opposition to the transfer of the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area from Tafawa Balewa town, enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, to Bununu, in contravention of the law which requires constitutional amendment before any such relocation could be validly effected.
The suspended member had during her contribution on the floor of the Bauchi State legislature on February 7, 2012, opposed the decision to so relocate the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area from Tafawa Balewa town to Bununu and further raised suspicion that the hurried manner the House unanimously approved the relocation without hearing from the majority of her constituents in Bogoro constituency may have been occasioned by a decision from a meeting in which she was not privy to nor present to air her opinion.
HURIWA recalled that the suspicion raised by the only female member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly on the floor of the Assembly during the debate on the proposed bill to relocate the local council headquarters led to her being referred for investigation by the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Specifically on February 8, 2012, the House committee on Ethics and privileges submitted the report of the probe and recommended the indefinite suspension of the only female member for her remarks made during the debate.
Almost two years after she was suspended, Danna has neither been paid her wages nor has she been allowed to represent her Bogoro Constituency in the Bauchi State House of Assembly just as her constituency is the only one dominated by religious and ethnic minorities in Bauchi State, HURIWA affirmed.
In a statement jointly endorsed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Director of Media Affairs, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the continuous suspension of Danna is completely untenable, illegal, unconstitutional and a total breach of the constitutionally guaranteed inherent fundamental right of her constituents to be so represented in the Bauchi State House of Assembly.
Besides, HURIWA expressed shock that the Federation of women lawyers, the National Assembly committees on Women Affairs and the office of the First Lady of Bauchi State have remained silent and allowed the only female voice in the Bauchi State House of Assembly to be extinguished even when Nigeria’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has said a lot about women political empowerment and is credited with influencing the appointment of the appreciative high percentage of women into the federal cabinet of her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan.
HURIWA said it was a breach of Chapter 4 of the constitution on the fundamental freedom of thought and expression for the male-dominated Bauchi State House of Assembly to conspire on a grand scale fashion to eliminate the only female voice from their midst.
HURIWA, which tasked the Bauchi State Governor to intervene in this instance and use it as a litmus test to show his gender equity strategy to the nation, also said: “We use this forum to call on the office of the wife of the President of Nigeria Mrs. Patience Jonathan to appeal to the Bauchi State House of Assembly to recall Mrs. Rifkatu Samson Danna from the indefinite suspension without further delay.”