*Says lawmakers lack powers to summon President
*Ozekhome faults AGF
By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
Fresh facts have emerged on why President Muhammadu Buhari dropped his scheduled Thursday’s address at a joint session of the National Assembly (NASS).
This is as the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF) , Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN), maintained that the National Assembly lacks the constitutional powers to invite the president over growing insecurity in the country.
But, legal luminary, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, has faulted the claim, insisting that the AGF goofed big time, adding that President Buhari’s earlier acceptance was constitutionally the only option.
The AGF argued that the country had recorded “tremendous success in containing the hitherto incessant bombings, colossal killings and wanton destruction of lives and property,” prior to Buhari’s emergence as president on May, 2015.
In a press statement on Wednesday by Dr. Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant to the AGF on Media, Malami said: “Mr. President has enjoyed constitutional privileges attached to the Office of the President, including exclusivity and confidentiality investiture in security operational matters, which remains sacrosanct.
“The National Assembly has no constitutional power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the president would be summoned by the National Assembly on operational use of the Armed Forces.
“The right of the President to engage the National Assembly and appear before it is inherently discretionary in the president and not at the behest of the National Assembly.
“The management and control of the security sector is 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 law making 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 Representative operated outside constitutional bounds.
“President’s exclusivity of constitutional confidentiality investiture within the context of the constitution remains sacrosanct,” the statement stated.
However in a statement titled “The National Assembly is constitutionally competent to summon President Buhari”, Chief Ozekhome, said the statement credited to Malami stands the constitution on its head.
The senior lawyer stated: “I have just read, with angst and trepidation, a statement credited to the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, to the effect that the NASS has no power to summon the President over his “operational use of the Armed Forces”.
“I am more disturbed with the AGF’s stance because the President has already voluntarily agreed to appear before the NASS.
“Under sections 217, 218 and 219 of the 1999 Constitution, the President cannot carry out the “operational use of the Armed Forces” without the NASS concurring or empowering him to do so.
“Infact, under section 219(b), the composition of the Armed Forces of the Federation must reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria, and it is only the NASS that has the powers to make laws regulating how the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, carry out the operational use of the Armed Forces. The President can never do so alone.
“So, Mr. President is subject to the scrutiny of the NASS as to why the strategies so far employed by Mr President to combat insecurity have abysmally failed Nigeria; and why he has continued to retain Service Chiefs, whose tenure of office has since expired, and who have since outlived their usefulness, efficiency and effectiveness.
“There is nothing secret or confidential about the Nigeran security situation, as the AGF want us to believe.
“The AGF must be living in another utopian world, not the same world of reality, where the entire Governors of the North East, and the entire Northern establishment and elites, including the Sultan of Sokoto, the ACF and the NEF, who have all decried the terrible insecurity situation in the North.
“Indeed, the Sultan said, without contradiction, that the North is the most hazardous and perilous place to live in Nigeria today.
“So, where is the AGF getting his information about reclaiming of over 14 Local Government Areas allegedly previously controlled by the Boko Haram from?”
He insisted that “by virtue of section 88(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly has the powers, by resolution published in its journal, or in the Official Gazette of the Federation, to direct or cause to be directed, investigation into ANY MATTER that it has powers to make laws on, as such matters include the conduct of affairs of ANY PERSON, authority, ministry or government department, which is in charge of executing or administering Laws enacted by the NASS, and also disbursing or administering monies appropriated or to be appropriated by the Executive under sections 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, and 162 of the 1999 Constitution.
“And these powers of the NASS are exercisable to “correct any defects in existing laws”, and to “expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution of laws made by the NASS”, and in the disbursement of funds appropriated by it”.