Leave Aganga, Sanusi Alone, HURIWA Tells National Assembly
Worried that the decision by the National Assembly to summon the trio of central Bank of Nigeria Governor Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, finance minister Olusegun Aganga and presidential Adviser on millennium Development Goals (MDG) Amina AL-Zubair amounts to an affront against the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, a group – Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has cautioned the National Assembly members to stop behaving like legislative ‘bullies’ and ‘tyrants’.
The group has also canvassed the creation of what it calls “part-time” National Assembly to save the nation from imminent economic collapse that may result from the unprecedented high and outrageous recurrent expenditure of the current National Assembly put at twenty five percent of Nigeria’s annual budget. It also advocated the appointment of an independent body of auditors from internationally recognized firm under the supervision of the United Nations to determine the precise percentage of the annual budget of Nigeria that are used to service the recurrent expenditures of the National Assembly.
In a statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of media Affairs Miss. Zainab Yusuf, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria said the incessant invitations extended to key government officials known to have expressed cogent and verifiable allegations of financial indiscretion against the National Assembly members is tantamount to legislative dictatorship and flagrant abuse of sections 88 and 89 of the constitution which deal with power of the National Assembly to conduct investigation and power as to matter of evidence.
The group reminded the legislators to avoid the selfish temptations of flouting relevant sections of the constitutionally enshrined fundamental human rights provisions in their bid to extract their pounds of flesh from high profile government officials who in the exercise of their constitutionally protected fundamental freedoms may have expressed opinions which may have innocuously offended the National Assembly members.
“With the greatest respect, we in the human rights community in Nigeria are worried that the members of the National Assembly are working so assiduously to undermine the exercise of the constitutionally protected fundamental freedom of expression especially by top government officials who are in the best positions to know how best to fix Nigeria’s faltering economy”.
“For the purpose of putting our apprehensions in their proper context, may we remind the members of the National Assembly that it is unlawful and unconstitutional for them to hide under their legislative powers to seek actively to curtail the enjoyment by federal officials of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in chapter four of the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Citing section 39(1) specifically of the constitution which provides that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information, without interference, the Rights group tasked the National Assembly members to seek verifiable ways to curtail the huge recurrent expenditures incurred by them rather than their current rapid resort to the use of primitive methods and arm twisting tactics to intimidate, harass or molest government officials.
The Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had raised alarm at a recent international forum that the allocation of twenty five percent of Nigeria’s annual budget to the National Assembly was unhealthy for the nation’s economy even as the Finance minister also raised the same concern. But the Senate subsequently summoned the Central Bank Governor, the Finance minister and the Presidential Adviser on MDG’s to appear before four joint committees to defend what the legislators described as ‘unfounded’ and ‘frivolous’ allegations.