A Nigerian born city council member in Louisville, Kentucky in the United States of America is fighting off moves by some council members asking for his resignation this week.
Vitalis Lanshima, a native of Jos, Plateau state has missed every meeting since mid-August as he pursues political office in Nigeria.
Louisville Metro Councilman Vitalis Lanshima, who nearly became the subject of a committee investigation into whether he broke state law, took aim at fellow Metro Council members and claimed to be targeted by “sore losers or sore winners.”
The councilman has come under scrutiny after fellow Democratic Councilwoman Cindi Fowler’s call for an investigation into whether his Nigerian candidacy broke state law or affected his eligibility to serve on Louisville Metro Council. Lanshima announced in August his intention to run for Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives.
Fowler said she was worried that District 21 constituents weren’t being adequately represented, particularly as Lanshima has missed 20 meetings since mid-June. At a Wednesday evening committee meeting, members noted that those were excused absences.
Lanshima has made $37,409.95 so far this year for his position on Metro Council, according to a city salary database. His annual salary is $48,790.56.
He declined Wednesday to provide the number of days he was overseas since being defeated in his primary this spring but said he returned to Louisville on Tuesday night after leaving the country in August and didn’t have plans to leave the country again.
Lanshima vehemently denied that constituents couldn’t reach him, saying that every single person who tried had been able to contact him.
Moments later, he said it had been “over a month” since he was first unable to use his iPhone because it was on “reset mode.” (He said he’d had contact via Facebook and other mediums.
After his defeat, Lanshima announced he was pursuing public office in Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives. He hopes to “lead the change in Jos North — Bassa Constituency,” according to a Facebook post on the page “Forward Nigeria – Vote Vitalis.”
He also registered to vote in Nigeria on July 3, 2018, according to INEC’s website. He has not attended a council meeting since Aug. 14, Democratic spokesman Tony Hyatt said Tuesday.
“I want him to be present and engaged within the community that he’s representing,” Fowler told the newspaper in response to Lanshima’s claims that he’s being targeted. “I’m not pointing my finger, so much as I’m saying, ‘Do the right thing.’ That’s all.”
The embattled councilman was selected rather than elected to represent the district after a previous councilman was ousted from his seat amid sexual misconduct allegations.
Lanshima tried to cling to the seat, but he was defeated by a fellow Democrat in the party’s primary election.
He will have to vacate the seat to the winner of the election in November.
But many local lawmakers became concerned after Lanshima registered to vote in Nigeria and announced his run for office there, as this could be a violation of Kentucky laws.
According to the laws, members of local government councils must be a “a qualified voter, and a resident within the territory of the consolidated local government and the district that he or she seeks to represent for at least one (1) year immediately prior to the person’s election.” The council members are also asked to live in his district “throughout the term of office.”
It’s unclear if registering to vote in another country revoked Lanshima’s “qualified voter” status in the country and the council will review the documents to determine that.