…It is unconstitutional, says Omo-Agege
The Senate on Wednesday disagreed with the House of Representatives over the invitation extended to President Muhammadu Buhari, to address it on the rising spate of insecurity in the country.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, said it is unconstitutional and an aberration for any arm of the National Assembly to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before it.
Omo-Agege maintained that the framers of the nation’s Constitution did not envisage a situation where one arm of government would summon the head of another arm of government to appear before it.
He disclosed this while responding to questions from reporters after a meeting of the Constitution review Committee at the National Assembly, Abuja.
He said that he cannot support that the President should honour such an invitation.
He said: “I am a constitutionalist. I believe that we are operating a presidential system of government.
“I believe in the concept of the separation of power. We have three equal arms of government.
“The framers of our Constitution did not envisage that one arm of government will be summoning the head another co-equal arm of government to come and offer an explanation on the floor.
“I think those of you who are familiar with the constitutional process, I don’t think you’ve ever heard that the US parliament had ever invited their president to appear before the House of Representatives or the US Senate, unless for the purpose of budget or to give an address on the state of the nation.
“In any event, we also have the concept of executive privilege. The executive arm of government has the power to claim executive privilege at any time any of such invitation is extended.
“It is not envisaged by the framers of the Constitution that a day will come where the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who heads the executive arm, would be asked to come and testify in the House of Representatives or the Senate. I do not also support that. I don’t believe that the President should come.”
It could be recalled that the House of Representatives recently passed a resolution inviting President Buhari to appear and brief it on the rising spate of insecurity in the country.
While the Presidency earlier confirmed that the President would brief a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday, feelers from the Villa later showed that the President would not honour the House’s invitation.
The upper chamber through the Chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru (Osun Central), also told reporters in Abuja that the Senate has nothing to do with the invitation of the President by the House.
He said that since the Senate did not summon the President, it would not want to be dragged into any controversy as to whether the President will appear before a joint session of the National Assembly or not.
Basiru said: “I’m a spokesperson of the Nigerian Senate. There was no resolution of the Nigerian Senate that the President should come and address it on the issue of national security.
“I expect that every enquiry as to the summoning and coming of the President should be directed to the House of Representatives.
“We operate a bi-camera legislature. That’s why our rules and procedures are different and that is why also we need concurrence from the two Houses on the passing of legislation.
“On this matter, there has not been an issue of a joint resolution. What you have is the resolution of the House of Representatives.
“And I believe, the House of Representatives should be able to tell you why the resolution was passed, and what will happen to that resolution.
“As far as the Senate is concerned, we have not summoned the President and we don’t want to get ourselves involved in any controversy as to whether the president will appear or not.
“To the best of my knowledge, I’m not aware of any planned joint session of the National Assembly tomorrow.”
On the statement of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the National Assembly lacks powers to summon the President, Basiru said: “I’m a legal practitioner; I have not read what Malami has said. When I read it, if it affects the Nigerian Senate, I will make a response. I can’t be responding to hearsay.
“Secondly, there has not been any communication as to the National Assembly expecting the President as far as the Senate is concerned.
“Our resolution still remains, that the President should hear the voice of the Nigerian Senate that the Service Chiefs should be examined (and) dropped so that we can have re-energized security architecture in the country.