- As AGF picks hole with lawmakers’ right of summon
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Lateef Ibrahim & Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
There was minor security beef up at the various entry and exit points of the National Assembly yesterday at close of work, ahead President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit, although speculations were rife that the President may not honour the invitation after all.
This is as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said that the National Assembly has no constitutional power to summon President Muhammad Buhari over the nagging insecurity in the country.
Recall that the House of Representatives had at the wake of the killing of 43 local rice farmers in Borno State, summoned President Buhari to appear before it to explain why insecurity has worsened in recent times under his watch.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who led the delivery of the summon to Buhari claimed that the President had obliged to honour the summon.
However, feelers from the parliament yesterday evening, cast doubt over the appearance of the President to honor the summon by the lawmakers.
A bank official who spoke to Peoples Daily anonymously, said though there were rumors that the President will visit the National Assembly today, but there is no official correspondence from the management of the National Assembly to banks not to come to work today.
It would be recalled that before now, any Presidential visit to the parliament usually heralds shutdown of all commercial activities in the parliament, as banks and restaurants, including junior staff of the parliament were told to stay away from the parliament.
However, there was no such communication from the National Assembly management at close of work yesterday, indicating that the President may not come.
Also, a food vendor in the parliament, who did not want to be mentioned, said a senior official of the National Assembly management on Tuesday had told food sellers that there would not be sales on Thursday in view of the anticipated presidential visits, but were later told to ignore the directive.
Further efforts to confirm from the Divisional Police officer of the National Assembly police Post, Usman Sabiu, why there was security beef up around the parliament, proved abortive as he denied knowledge that the President will, or will not appear before the lawmakers today.
He rather referred our correspondent to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Amos Ojo Olatunde, saying his office as the DPO, has no business with whether the President has communicated his coming to the parliament or not.
He also said it is the lawmakers who should have the information on whether the president will honour the summon by the House of Representatives.
A senator from the South East, who does not want to be named, said the summon was not done in conjunction with the Senate, saying the Senate has nothing to do with it. He said if the President wishes to honour the summon by addressing a joint session of the National Assembly, the senators will participate.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in a statement titled ‘Buhari’s Summon: NASS operates outside Constitutional bounds’, said the lawmakers lack the power to summon the President; a further indication that the President may not honour the invitation on legal grounds.
The statement personally signed by the Minister, said “President Muhamamdu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recorded tremendous success in containing the hitherto incessant bombing, colossal killings, wanton destruction of lives and property that bedeviled the country before attaining the helm of affairs of the country in 2015.
“The confidentiality of strategies employed by the President as the commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not open for public exposure in view of security implications in probable undermining of the war against terror.
“The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was instrumental to the reclaiming of over 14 Local Governments previously controlled by the Boko Haram in North East is an open secret, the strategies for such achievement are not open for public expose”.
While condoling the bereaved and sympathizing with the victims of the associated insecurity in the country, Malami maintained that national security is not about publicity and the nation’s security architecture cannot be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.
He 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.
Malami added that 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, he said.
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, the AGF said.
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, he added.
Malami, in further explaining the cancellation of the proposed appearance of the President at the NASS, today (Thursday) said the legislature operates outside constitutional bounds to envisage or contemplate to summon Buhari on operational use of the Armed Forces.
A statement signed by the Media Aid to Malami said, ‘’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.