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REVIEW… A barking legislature, a deaf presidency

REVIEW... A barking legislature, a deaf presidency

“Finally, the National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its constitutional powers (against President Muhammadu Buhari led executive) if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today”.

This was a threat handed down by federal lawmakers on Tuesday June 5, 2018, after a joint session of the National Assembly over perceived ill treatment the executive arm of government has continued to mete out to the legislature.

Top on the list of other resolutions of the June 5 declaration was the vow by the National Assembly members to suspend any further actions on communications from the executive until previous resolutions of the legislature, especially, the demand for the sack of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, is respected.

The development came on the heels of a police invitation to the Senate President Bukola Saraki to respond to allegations of his connections to criminals involved in banks robbery in Offa, Kwara State that claimed the lives of over 30 persons, and criminal prosecution of some other members of the National Assembly, which the lawmakers believe is being orchestrated by leadership of the executive arm.

While many reactions have trailed the threat, a good number of Nigerians contend that like other similar threats by the lawmakers in the past, nothing is likely to come out of this new one.

Already, many analysts believe that President Buhari will in his seeming usual way ignore them, or at best invite the principal officers of the legislature to a sumptuous dinner at the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, case closed.

For those who may have forgotten, listed below are previous threats against Buhari and some of his appointees by the National Assembly that ended up only as noise making.

Impeachment threats over purchase of $496m Tucano aircraft: This is among the latest threats against President Buhari by the lawmakers. It happened late April 2018.

Buhari was accused of violating Section 80 of the 1999 Constitution (amended), by withdrawing $496 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to purchase military aircrafts from the United States without approval by the National Assembly.

In their responses to the development, both arms of the National Assembly threatened Buhari with impeachment for committing the supposed sacrilege.

Read also: OFFA ROBBERY: I’ve sent my written response to police— Saraki

At the Senate, on Thursday April 26, the motion was moved by Senator Matthew Urhoghide and seconded by Senator Chukwuka Utazi. It was then referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary for further legislative advice. The committee is yet to report back.

Earlier, on Tuesday April 24, the House of Representatives on confirming that Buhari actually paid for the aircraft without approval by federal lawmakers, got highly enraged and threatened fire and brimstone. They described the act as an impeachable offence, highest level of misconduct and suggested commencing processes to impeach the President.

A federal lawmaker from Edo, who muted the idea of impeaching Buhari, was lucky to have escaped a angry mob from his state.

Threat over Buhari’s refusal to assent to Bill for amendment of electoral act: In March 2018, after President Buhari withheld his assent to the electoral act amendment bill passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, the media was awash with stories of how the lawmakers have reintroduced the bill and making efforts to override the President’s veto.

However after all the hullabaloo, the lawmakers suspended the bill, which among other things seeks to adjust the electoral sequence for the National Assembly elections to hold before the Presidential Election.

Magu must be go, else we won’t screen any Buhari nominee: The Senate took this decision after President Buhari twice asked it to confirm the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, as the commission’s substantive chairman, and the lawmakers also twice rejected the request.

Despite the January 2018 ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over by Justice John Tsoho, which held that the upper chamber of the National Assembly had the powers to confirm or reject Magu’s appointment, the EFCC boss has continued his duties untroubled, while the Senate keeps confirming Buhari’s appointments sent to it.

Although the Senate had true to its threat then kept in abeyance, the confirmation of Buhari’s nominee for the position of Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and four members of the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), as well as 27 persons as INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC).

It had also then refrained from screening and confirming over 40 other nominations including heads and board members of the Pension Commission (PenCom), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA).

All that seemed to have fizzled out as Buhari’s apparent silence over the threat seems to have triumphed.

Senate Vs Hameed Ali saga: The appearance issue between the Senate and one of Buhari’s appointees, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, was another drama that apparently ended with all noise no result.

First, the Senate committee on Customs had summoned Ali to appear before it over high-handedness and the policy of collecting duties on old vehicles.

In a motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West at the plenary of the Senate, the lawmakers ordered that Ali should be mandated to appear before it and no longer before its Customs committee and that he must appear in uniform.

The lawmakers had vowed to recommend for Ali’s sack should he fail to obey the summon.

Ahead of his eventual visit to the Senate to honour the summon, Ali had openly declared that he was never going to appear in Customs uniform and he never did.

The Senate had walked Ali out for refusing to appear before it properly kitted in his service uniforms, and asked him to return fully dressed or face sanctions.

While Ali never appeared before the Senate in Customs uniform, it looks like the lawmakers may have been cowed by whatever forces to let sleeping dogs lie, as always, and have since not returned to the issue. This could partly be because the Customs dropped the controversial policy.

The latest threat to impeach the president, has so far been replied with the usual silence by the presidency.

Although some Nigerians have applauded the decision of the lawmakers and would like to see what would come of the threat, a good many others see the resolutions as one of those usual threats, which at the end would amount to nothing but mere noise.

A Lagos lawyer and university lecturer, Wahab Shittu who spoke in that regard, warned the National Assembly against playing to the gallery.

To him, the issues raised in the resolutions do not even amount to impeachable offences as President Buhari alone cannot be blamed.

Already, some lawmakers, including a former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, and Muhammed Kazaure, who are believed to be expressing the minds of some of their colleagues, have vowed to stand against any act by the National Assembly to move against the president.

Many political analysts, argue that President Buhari would in his usual ‘silent manner’ ignore the lawmakers and their list of threats and that in days, or at most weeks, the matter would become a forgotten issue.

By Ebere Ndukwu …


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About the author

Ebere Ndukwu

Ebere is a lover of investigative journalism, always seeking to unearth the hidden.