By Lawrence Olaoye
There are indications that the Executive and the Legislative arms of government may be heading for a constitutional collision over a memo from the Presidency purportedly directing all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to stop heeding summons from Committees of the National Assembly without express permission of the President.
This was brought to the fore through the response of the Ministry of Interior to a memo from the House of Representatives Committee on Public Account (PAC).
Sections 85, 86 and 87 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowers the Auditor-General of the Federation to look into the accounts of all MDAs and submit its findings to the Parliament for consideration by Public Account Committees of both Chambers of the National Assembly.
The power of the PAC committees to consider the reports submitted by the Auditor-General without any interference was drawn from Section 85(5) of the Constitution.
The House of Representatives PAC, led by Solomon Adeola-Olamilekan had invited the Interior ministry to make an appearance before it and answer to questions raised by the Office of Auditor General of the Federal (OGAF) on the monies released to the ministry by the Budget Office from the service wide votes between 2004 and 2012.
But the ministry, in a response, signed by its Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Fatima Bamidele, said it will not heed the call by the committee until clearance or approval is given to it by the Presidency.
In the letter signed by the Chairman of the Committee, the Head of Service was reminded of the consequences of the presidency mingling in the constitutional duty of the parliament which he said, has dire consequences.
“I wish to put on record that continued refusal to attend to the legitimate call of the Parliament and bringing the Presidency to justify the action could be taken as a deliberate ploy to subvert the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as it could be seen as an attempt to ensure that the National Assembly is deterred from performing a constitutional role” Solomon Olamilekan, House PAC Committee chairman wrote.