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Constitutional crisis looms as Buhari shuns NASS invitation

By: DejiIn: Date: Thursday, 10 December 2020 Add Comment

Constitutional crisis looms as Attorney General Abubakar Malami, yesterday, gave an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari could renege on his promise to appear before the House of Representatives to explain the country’s security challenges.

The President had opted to speak to a joint session of the National Assembly (the Senate and House of Representatives) after he was summoned by the House in the wake of Boko Haram’s beheading of scores of rice farmers in Zarbamari Village, Borno State. The House had, after a rowdy session on December 1, passed unanimous resolution to summon President Buhari to render account of his effort to tackle the spate of insecurity in the polity.

Following the invitation, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila had visited President Buhari in Aso Villa and announced that the President was ready to appear before House members to answer crucial questions on the Federal Government’s anti-insurgency war, considering yearly budget approvals for defence.

Considering his subsequent communication with the National Assembly, President Buhari was scheduled to address the joint session today (Thursday) but Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice issued a statement yesterday saying that the National Assembly had no constitutional power to summon President Buhari on operational use of the Armed Forces.

Already, the sudden change of position by the Executive arm of government, as announced by AGF Malami, has torn the Legislature apart, with the Senate distancing itself from the invitation.

According to Malami, the right of the President to engage the National Assembly and appear before it is inherently discretionary and not at the behest of the National Assembly.

Malami noted that the management and control of the security sector was exclusively vested in the President by Section 218 (1) of the Constitution as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, including the power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces.

“An invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the Armed Forces to a public interrogation is, indeed, taking the constitutional rights of lawmaking beyond bounds.

“As the Commander in Chief, the President has exclusivity on security and has confidentiality over security.

“These powers and rights he does not share. So, by summoning the President on National Security operational matters, the House of Representatives operated outside constitutional bounds. President’s exclusivity of constitutional confidentiality, investiture within the context of the constitution remains sacrosanct,” he said.

While condoling with the bereaved and sympathising with victims of the associated insecurity in the country, Malami maintained that national security is not about publicity and that the nation’s security architecture could not be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.

He stated that Buhari had enjoyed constitutional privileges attached to the office of the President, including exclusivity and confidentiality in security operational matters, which remains sacrosanct.

THE indication that Buhari might not be appearing before the lawmakers became rife yesterday, after Speaker Gbajabiamila, who presided over plenary of the House of Representatives deliberately skipped the issue relating to the admittance of President Buhari as listed in the Order Paper of the House.

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