Insecurity: No formal communication yet on why Buhari failed to come for briefing – Reps

Insecurity: No formal communication yet on why Buhari failed to come for briefing – Reps

We have constitutional powers to invite Buhari, anyone ― Reps lambast Malami

…reconfirm President assured lawmakers of coming; yet to give reasons for shunning invite

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

House of Representatives has vehemently refuted the claims by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami that the National Assembly lacked powers to invite the President for questioning.

In what appeared like a rebuttal to the unsavoury comments that had apparently caused ripples and put the Legislature and the Arm of government at daggers drawn with each other, the House chided Malami, saying he is neither a part of the presidency to have spoken for President Muhammadu Buhari nor a judge in the matter.

It will be recalled that on the account of a parliamentary resolution last week, the President was formally invited and scheduled to appear before the House on Thursday (today) to brief it on the vexatious lingering security fiasco that has been the country’s lot for ages now.

The invitation, however, came on the heels of the dastardly killing of over 43 rice farmers in Zarbamari village, Borno State late November 2020.

Briefing correspondents after Thursday plenary session, the Spokesman of the House, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu insisted there was an official communication to Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila after his visit to the Presidential Villa, assuring that the President would honour the invitation.

Kalu who is also the chairman, House Committee on media and public affairs hinted that it was possible that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC may have prevailed on the president from coming.

He said that the House was yet to officially receive any communication from the president wherein it was expected that he would state his reasons for not coming.

Kalu said: “As you are aware when that motion was passed last week, it was rowdy because some members wanted the President to be there while some felt otherwise.

“But majority of the House took the mandate of their constituents, moved a resolution even against the position of the Speaker. If you were there, the Speaker struggled to make sure the House toe the line of using alternative approach to it. But the decision of the parliament overrides the presiding officers because to do otherwise will be bias and undemocratic.

“As a mark of honour, the leadership of the House sent a delegation, that’s the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and House Leader to engage the President beyond the resolution of the House. When they met with Mr President, he assured them that he will visit and address Nigerians. As the days went by, it was narrowed to Thursday.

“There were official communication from the Presidency committing to the position of Mr Speaker that the President has accepted to come. So, the Speaker and Deputy were not operating on the frolic of their own. It was backed up by the President. Up to that extent, we felt very honored by Mr President.

“As you know what we operate is a democracy that’s hinged on party supremacy. Beyond the President lies the supremacy of the party. The President answers to the party. He’s there as President on the platform of the APC, given to him by the party. So, if he took a position as the President and his political party asks him to alter his position, if he’s truly a party man, he must oblige his party why the discussion goes on.

“We have constitutional powers to invite Buhari, anyone for information

“All you’ve read about has been from unofficial sources. The question then becomes what’s the relevance of this visit? Many have been asking. Is it morally or legally right to have this engagement? Regarding whether it is constitutional to invite the President, somehow I would have said let’s leave the judicial interpretation of the provisions of the constitution to be in the hands of the judiciary, but as a lawyer, I can assure you the parliament did not act in error and this I say based on the constitution.

“There’s a mandate and that mandate is well expressed on section 88, 89 of the constitution. The position of the law says that granted by section four of the armed forces act, the President is the chairman of security council. The armed forces act is a piece of legislation made by the parliament. And it is the provision of 89 that we have the right to investigate issues bordering on anything we have the capacity to legislate on.

“We have legislative competence to legislate on all this and therefore if there are things we need to find out in such areas, the law in section 89 empowers us to invite anybody for the purposes of obtaining pieces of evidence either in oral or documentary form and that includes everybody.

“There’s also a part of the law which is the power to arrest and command President, that particular one because of section 308 of the constitution that gives immunity to the President, you cannot exercise that.

“The power of discretion or over the operational activities of the armed forces I think he was referring to, section 218 of the constitution. It’s not in doubt, it’s the truth. The power of discretion that’s found in section 67 (1) where it is said that the President has the right, may visit the National Assembly to address National issues that are discretionary.

READ ALSO: Ignore AGF, honour our summons opposition Reps tell Buhari

“But if the House is investigating any issue that borders on all we make laws for, the position of sections 88,89 is that we can invite people to give us evidence. Is the President under investigation? The answer is no. We invited him to have an engagement that will help us review few things, know whether the strategy we have now is in order, to have a feedback mechanism. We can’t command him but the law says we can invite him.

AGF, Malami not part of Presidency, Judge or APC Spokesman

“The position of Malami is not the position of the court. He’s not the judge. He’s not the spokesperson of APC. We have not received any official communication because in that, the reasons will be given why Mr. President is not able to come. Every other thing is guess work.

“Our channel of communication is not with the Attorney General. He’s not part of the Presidency neither is he a judge. His position cannot be seen as the position of the APC. I insist that no official communication from the Presidency to counter the initial position.

No official Communications from President on why he failed to honor invitation

“We have not received any formal communication. Up till this moment, we have not received a formal communication from the office of the President stating that this appointment has been cancelled or shifted.

“Until we receive a contrary position in a formal form where reasons they will not be coming will be explained, it will be difficult for me to jump the gun at this point. Wait until you receive formal communication from the Presidency. If he’s not coming, the reasons will be highlighted and we will communicate that to you.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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Insecurity: No formal communication yet on why Buhari failed to come for briefing – Reps