HURIWA to APC Senators: Don’t destroy Nigeria’s democracy

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A leading pro-democracy and non-governmental body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has cautioned All Progressive Congress (APC) Senators not to allow unbridled quest and unrestrained cravings to unseat senate leadership to lead to the invitation of military coupistsby you in Nigeria.

The Rights group cautioned the different divides within the Senate made up largely of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) to stop over-heating the polity over the cross carpeting of the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki from APC to PDP alongside other erstwhile APC – elected legislators who recently left their party for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

HURIWA recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari just before embarking on the recent 10-days medical vacation to the United kingdom met some APC senators in the Presidential Villa accompanied by the National leadership of the All progressives congress just as the participants told State House reporters that they will take action within their powers to ensure that the Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki relinquished his seat which the National Chairman of APC dramatically described as the crown of his political party.

Condemning as outrageous and an indirect invitation to chaos and anarchy which may motivate over-ambitious soldiers to destroy democracy, the speculated plots by some aggrieved APC Senators loyal to President Buhari who are said to be planning the illegal recovering of the Senate Chambers this week, the prominent Civil Rights organization has therefore called for circumspection on the parts of the President and the APC senators.

Urging for calm and respect to the constitutional provisions regarding the separation of powers, the Rights group stated that any extralegal move by the All Progressives Congress Senators to forcefully reconvene the senate which is on two months recess amounts to a direct threat to constitutional democracy and would make Nigeria's constitutional democracy vulnerable to the attacks of politically ambitious elements in the military institutions who may be tempted to strike and to destabilize the fragile and young civil rule that all patriots have worked resolutely to institutionalize.

“We are worried by the avalanche of news reports regarding the plots by some renegade senators to invade the hallowed chambers of the senate without lawful authorization by the legally constituted hierarchy of the upper chambers, with the clandestine motive to overthrow the leadership of Dr. Bukola Saraki the Senate President and his Deputy professor Ike Ekweremadu. We are worried by the naked show of crude force by the national chairman of APC and some senators who against all known laws and legislative conventions have threatened to forcefully reopen the senate chambers so as to enable the renegade senators to institute a regime change following the threats by the presidency and the All Progressives Congress to take all measures to restore the senate leadership to the party that produced the president which, is APC. Any attempt outside rule 12 of the Senate Rule granting powers to reconvene from recess of the Senate in the hands of the presiding officers of Senate President and his Deputy, woyld amount to high treason which has the potential of destabilising civil rule."

In a media statement authorized by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA condemned the open threats by the APC's leadership against the senate leadership even when according to the Rights group, there are legally stated mechanisms of effecting regime change which is strictly the function of the law makers when they are in a properly convoked session which must be summoned by either the senate president or his deputy in line with known precepts governing the National Assembly.”

HURIWA reminded the those they described as rebellious APC senators to note that under the Constitution, there are in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria a total of 109 Senators, all directly elected by the electorates of their different constituencies for the duration of 4 years.

HURIWA recalled that that; "The chamber is convened by a proclamation issued by the President of the Federation. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that after 4 years from the date of the first sitting, the Senate stands dissolved. We are of the considered opinion that the externally induced crisis in the Senate instigated by the Presidency is an extra legal attempt to dissolve the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because the unconstitutional change of leadership will inevitably cripple the activities of the Senate and deny Nigeria of the constitutional functions and mandates of the Senate which is an integral part of the central legislative mechanisms necessary for law making for the good governance of Nigeria".

HURIWA stated that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot be dissolved before the end of its session even as it reminded the presidency that legally the two Houses (Senate and House of Representatives) have equal legislative competence. Every bill passed by either House has to be passed by the other House in identical form before it can be forwarded to the President for assent.

Continuing, HURIWA affirmed this: " Going through a relevant laws and statutes we are clearly told thst the Senate is expected to sit for a total of 181 days in a year just as the Senate has as an oversight functions of the investigation of the implementation of the Annual Budgets by Executive Departments and the Supervision of Nigeria’s Foreign Policies by passing into legality treaties entered into by the country.

HURIWA stated that it must be legally noted that the Senate also approves Diplomatic and Ministerial Appointments, Judiciary Appointments and Removal of Judicial Officers at the Federal level. It also approves States and Local Governments creation and amends the constitution when necessary.

HURIWA also asserted that the functions of the presiding officers of Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are; · Chairing the plenary sessions of the Chamber and the committees of the whole Senate;· Ruling on Points of Order.;· Final interpretation of the Chambers rules;· Appointment of Chairs and members of the committees in consultation with the committee of selection, which he chairs;· He is the Chairman of joint sessions of the two Chambers and he represents the National Assembly at ceremonial occasions.”

HURIWA said on no account should the partisan contentions between the APC and PDP be allowed to destroy civil rule in Nigeria just the Rights group asked Nigerians not to maintain conspiratorial silence and allow the leadership of APC to destroy a very important institution of democracy such as the National Assembly to install puppets and stooges of the Presidency as the Presiding officers of the National Assembly.