Herdsmen killings, alleged harassment: National Assembly threatens to invoke its powers against Buhari
The Senate and the House of Representatives sent warning signals to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, saying that he must halt ongoing killings in the country and stop using the police to intimidate political opponents.
They said if the trend continued, the National Assembly would invoke its constitutional powers.
Both chambers held a joint executive session, which lasted for over two hours before making 12 resolutions.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, presided over the joint session.
The resolutions taken at the session were read out by Saraki after the closed-door session ended.
Although, the word impeachment was not mentioned in the resolutions, it was implied in the 12th resolution.
The National Assembly stated, “And if nothing is done, the National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its powers against the Executive.”
A senior National Assembly official said the interpretation of the invocation of the federal lawmakers power against Buhari “is impeachment.”
He added, “It means impeachment. We have given the President ample opportunity to improve on security and all the issues listed in our resolutions.
“At the executive session, senators and members were on the same page on the position that if the President does not improve on his style and the security situation in the country in the weeks ahead, impeachment proceedings will become the option.”
The source, who explained what the National Assembly meant by invoking its power, said the lawmakers were giving the President two to three weeks to implement the resolutions.
Lawmakers pass confidence vote in Saraki, Dogara
The lawmakers reviewed the ongoing killings across the country and the apparent failure of security agencies and other top officials of the government to contain the situation.
They also raised the alleged intimidation of perceived political opponents of the Buhari administration, especially the harassment of Saraki by the police.
The session passed a vote of confidence in both Saraki and Dogara, saying that the two had so far fought to promote democracy.
However, the National Assembly restated the vote of no confidence passed in the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris.
The resolutions read, “The security agencies must be given the marching orders to curtail the sustained killing of Nigerians across the country and protect lives and property of Nigerians as this is the primary duty of any responsible government.
“The systematic harassment and humiliation by the Executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinions, including legislators and judiciary by the police and other security agencies must stop.
“There must be strict adherence to the rule of law and protection for all citizens by the President and his appointees.
“The President must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction those that carry out any act which will ridicule or endanger our country and democracy.
“The government should show sincerity in the fight against corruption by not being selective and should also prosecute current appointees that have cases pending against them.
“The sanctity of the National Assembly should be protected and preserved by the Federal Government of Nigeria by not interfering in its business and prosecuting those who invaded the Senate to seize the mace.
“The National Assembly should liaise with the international community through the IPU, APU, ECOWAS, CPA, Parliament, Pan African Parliament, EU, UN, the US Congress and the UK Parliament to secure our democracy.
“Democratic elections must be competitive and inclusive by removing the present reign of fear and intimidation, particularly as we approach the forthcoming 2019 elections.
“The National Assembly will work closely with the civil society organisations, trade unions and NGOs to further deepen and protect our democracy.
“The President must take immediate steps to contain the growing level of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria especially now that we have advantage of the oil price having risen to $80 per barrel.
“Both chambers of the National Assembly hereby pass a vote of confidence in the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly.
“We reaffirm our earlier resolution of vote of no confidence in the Inspector-General of Police, who does nothing other than preside over the killing of innocent Nigerians and consistent framing up of perceived political opponents of the President and outright disregard for constitutional authority, both executive and legislative.
“Finally, the National Assembly will not hesitate to evoke its constitutional powers if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today.”
Jigawa senator, Gudaji-Kazaure, rejects impeachment threat
However, one member from Jigawa State, Mr. Mohammed Gudaji-Kazaure, objected to the impeachment threat.
Gudaji-Kazaure, who spoke with reporters soon after the session ended, said while he accepted the decisions of the National Assembly, he rejected the last resolution on threat of impeachment.
“What does using all necessary powers mean? It means impeachment. I am not in support of it because Buhari is not at fault. The problem is the people the President has been working with.
“People who do not have his interest are working for him and they are the problem, not Buhari. Buhari is a man with a good heart for the country,” he added.
The lawmaker said he was sure that no impeachment move against the President would succeed because he had more supporters among lawmakers than those opposed to him.
Gudaji-Kazaure stated, “But some of us were not okay with that position (impeachment).I call on the President to checkmate the people creating problem for his government.The threat to the President is worrisome to me. I didn’t agree with that.
“We know there is the issue of some people collecting signature to impeach the President. But, I know that won’t be possible, because we have the majority. They can’t do that when we are around. This government shouldn’t intimidate anybody for power. We didn’t intimidate anybody before we got power, so we shouldn’t do any such thing now.”
However, Gudaji-Kazaure advised Buhari to review some of his appointees by either sacking them or redeploying them.
He noted that so long as the present crop of appointees continued to work with Buhari, the President would win more enemies than friends.
He cited the case between Saraki and the police as an example, saying that it was embarrassing for the police to link the Senate President to armed robbery incidents.
Jibrin group says resolutions are Saraki, PDP’s agenda
Meanwhile, some senators and members under the aegis of The Parliamentary Support Group, have reacted to the resolutions, saying that they were the Peoples Democratic Party and Saraki’s agenda.
In a statement, the group said nearly all the speakers at the executive session were PDP members, while the All Progressives Congress lawmakers avoided talking.
“That almost all the members and senators that spoke at the executive session are of the PDP, while members of the APC declined joining the discussion to avoid a rowdy confrontation as the entire session could easily pass for a PDP executive session,” the group stated.
The statement was signed by a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.
The statement added that even Dogara avoided to speak at the session as it appeared that the issues raised were personal to Saraki.
“It is commendable that the Speaker tactically refused to make any comment at the session even after the Senate President took time to explain the issues, which are mostly personal.
“It is disturbing and raised many questions of pre-determined intentions that a known ally of the Senate President from Kwara State, Mr. Rasak Atunwa, drafted what was adopted as the resolutions and without voting, against standard parliamentary practices,” the statement said.
The group commended Buhari’s efforts in tackling corruption and insecurity so far.
‘Lawmakers with criminal charges should face cases alone’
The Parliamentary Support Group however called on any members of the National Assembly, who had cases against the law, to face their cases without involving the entire legislature.
The statement added, “That we commend the efforts of Mr. President in the fight against corruption, tackling of the insecurity challenges and respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions. Mr. President is known for his non-interference policy.
“That every senator or member of House of Representatives who has corruption or criminal allegation against him or her should clear his or her name without dragging the entire institution of the National Assembly into the matter.
“That the National Assembly should as well look inward and address the issue of suffocating senators and members with dissenting or contrary opinions through coercion or extra legal means.”