Division in Senate over Buhari's impeachment call
Nigerian Senators joined their House of Representatives counterparts to condemn the pay out of a whopping $496 million by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for the purchase of Tucano jets from the USA without the approval of the National Assembly.
The House had earlier on Wednesday lashed out at the president for the wanton disregard of legislative powers, which its members minced no words in saying that it was an impeachable offence.
Lawmaker representing Edo South, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, at the plenary on Thursday, moved that the Senate should invoke Section 143 of 1999 Constitution, due to the Presidency's act.
“It's a violation of Section 80 subsection 1, 2, 3, 4. The procedure of the expenditure is wrong. There ought to be an appropriation before such an expenditure. I hereby request that the Senate President should invoke Section 18 of the Constitution,” Urhoghide said.
The senate had earlier during the plenary on Thursday, read a letter from the president requesting the inclusion of USD 496,374,470 (equivalent of N151,394,494,335.00) in the year 2018 Appropriation Bill for the purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft from the US Government, read by Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan.
Reacting on the development, lawmaker representing Enugu North, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said “This Tucano helicopters are to be brought in 2020, why include it now in appropriation. This is an impeachable offense.”
He said Mr Buhari should be punished for the 'impeachable offence' he committed.
“Mr President, a time has come when this Senate has to rise up and do the job which the Constitution has stipulated that we have to do. If we have a chief executive who doesn't want to behave according to the Constitution, we follow the Constitution to handle such a chief executive. There is no other name to call this than this is an impeachment offence. It's an impeachable offence and we cannot allow that. We cannot stay here and this Assembly will be taken for granted.”
Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central, in his comment, said that President Buhari's action was a breach of constitution. He said: “We are not ignorant of the security challenges that is going on in the country and how it affects the stability of our country. I appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government to bring an end to the killings in Nigeria but this is no reason to breach the Constitution.”
The matter was however forwarded to the Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters.
Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-APC), accused senators of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) of conspiring to impeach Mr Buhari.
He justified the president's decision to make the withdrawal on precedence.
“He took action based on national interest, that's why he authorised this payment. As far as I'm concerened, this is the first time that money drawn from excess crude oil account is being brought to the National Assembly. Since they begin to operate this account, I have never seen any expenditure that was brought here for approval.
“N17.7 billion was drawn by (ex-President) Obasanjo to pay the Paris Club without National Assembly approval. Obasanjo left N9.3 billion in excess crude account but former President Goodluck Jonathan …the money with no recourse to the National Assembly. The account was increased to over N20 billion in 2008 and decreased to less than N4 billion by Jonathan in 2010. It never came to National Assembly for approval.
“N2 billion was used by the previous PDP administration to fight Boko Haram in 2014. Governor Godswill Akpabio was the one who moved the motion at the National Economic Council to get the money. N5 billion was taken for power generation, funding was also sourced for Niger Delta, the same process was not taken by (ex-President Yar' adua). It was later taken to the National Assembly and it was approved.
“This is a PDP conspiracy. I will like PDP to tell us which of their governors has taken the money released from excess crude oil account to the state assembly for approval. If this is a PDP conspiracy to tarnish the image of Muhammadu Buhari, they will not be able to do it because we are coming out with figures.”
Raising a point of order, Mr Akpabio denied moving a motion for release of funds when he was a governor.