The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu on Wednesday faulted claim by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), that the National Assembly lacks the powers to summon the president.
The lawmaker specifically dismissed the minister’s claim as strange.
The House had last week summoned President, Muhammadu Buhari after debating the recent slaughtering of 43 rice farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
Buhari had agreed to appear before a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday but he has reportedly made a U-turn on the appearance.
Okechukwu, while reacting to Malami in a statement issued on Wednesday and titled ‘Deputy Minority Leader Faults Malami on Buhari’s House Summons…Says APC Fiddles while Nigeria Burns,’ said the AGF was only airing the position of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The Deputy Minority Leader, a lawyer, stated that the invitation was “a prudent effort on the part of the legislature to find a lasting solution to the worsening insecurity in the country. He also stated that the President’s willingness to appear was evident in his interaction with the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.
He said, “Without making undue efforts to win an argument, Section 89 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended clearly empowers the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with Section 62 of the Constitution to procure evidence, written or oral and to summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place.
“Therefore, the attempt to pressurise Mr President not to appear clearly shows that some highly placed political actors in the ruling party are placing politics over the protection of lives of Nigerians. The APC is evidently fiddling with propaganda and politics while Nigeria burns.”
Okechukwu described as unfortunate, a situation where every invitation by a branch of government to another branch to interact towards addressing any national challenges was considered as demeaning, thereby triggering unnecessary flexing of muscles.
He said, “It is evident from APC’s position as made public by the AGF that the safety of Nigerian citizens would take a back sit in the next few days, while the argument over who is right or wrong unfortunately takes the front seat.”
The lawmaker, therefore, called on Buhari to “rise above the legalese and political fray to show leadership in order to rally the Nigerian people and their parliament to find lasting solutions to the growing insecurity in the country.”