*NASS rejects Buhari’s executive orders
*It usurps legislative, judiciary powers – Senate
*Order similar to dreaded decree 2 of 1984 – Reps
*Says it is aimed at harassing perceived political opponents
*Summons AGF, Law Reform Commission Chairman
As controversy continues to trail the executive orders recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, both chambers of the National Assembly have rejected them insisting that it usurps legislative and judicial powers of the National Assembly and the judiciary as enshrined in sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution.
It would be recalled that last week, President Buhari had signed executive order 006, seeking to restrain owners of assets under probe from carrying out further transactions on such properties.
The two chambers also resolved to summon the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Chairman, Nigerian Law Reform Commission, Mr. Kefas Magaji who are expected to brief members on the basis for President Buhari’s executive orders that have become controversial.
The duo is also expected to appear before the legislators with a comprehensive list of all subsidiary legislations in Nigeria published in the federal gazette as well as set up an ad-hoc committee to scrutinize and investigate all subsidiary legislations and executive orders in Nigeria.
Debating a motion titled “urgent need to investigate the constitutional compliance of all subsidiary legislations and executive arm of government” on the floor of the House of Representatives co-sponsored by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) and 25 others, Ossai noted that the recent executive order 006 of 2018 signed into law by President Buhari was done in bad faith and aimed at harassing political opponents.
He said during debate on the general principles of the motion that by the action of the President, the executive arm of government has hijacked and usurped legislative and judicial powers arguing that the executive order empowers the executive to restrict dealings in suspicious assets subjected to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption.
According to him, section 44 (2) (k) of the 1999 Constitution restricts the application of compulsory acquisition of moveable or immoveable property in any part of Nigeria except on the temporary takings of possession of property for the purpose of any examination, investigation or inquiry.
The Delta lawmaker further said that executive powers shall extend to the execution and maintenance of the constitution and all laws made by the National Assembly.
“The executive order number 006 of 2018 is a clear usurpation of legislative and judicial powers, and a replica of subsisting legislations such as section 8 of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act of 1983, section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 and certain provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“The executive order 006 of 2018 is similar to the dreaded Decree 2 of 1984 that could be used as an instrument to hunt, traumatise, harass and victimize perceived political opponents”, he insisted.
However, in his own submission, Hon. Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe (APC, Imo) raised a constitutional point of order urging the sponsors to step down the motion and proceed to the courts for judicial interpretation of the legal and constitutional bottlenecks regarding the orders as approved by president Buhari.
But Hon. Bode Ayorinde argued that the President’s action amounted to carrying out both legislative and executive functions which the constitution did not envisage.
It was the same position canvassed by Hon. Jerry Alagbaso (PDP, Imo) who argued that the controversial executive order was not a matter to be debate based on party lines.
“It is not an issue of APC or PDP, but we have to kill this executive order”, he declared.
Speaking vehemently against the motion, Hon. Mojeed Alabi (APC, Osun) argued that it was a waste of time to stop the executive order because according to him, the powers to make executive order proclamation were vested on the president by the constitution.
On its part, the Senate sought a halt to further violation of the sacred principle of separation of powers and adopt the rule of law as the guiding principle of government actions.
Presenting the motion titled: “Alarming rise in cases of alleged human rights violations and consistent assault on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by the Executive”, Senator David Umaru (Niger East) said, “The foundation of a modern democratic government is premised on the rule of law and constitutionality.”
He submitted that Nigeria was descending into anarchy and despotism as a result of indiscriminate arrests, unconstitutional detention of citizens under questionable circumstances as was the fate of the Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who was whisked away by a detachment of DSS personnel while attending a function at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and later kept incommunicado in a detention facility for 5 days.
The lawmaker cited the continuous detentions of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaki etc, despite bails granted them by courts of competent jurisdiction as human rights abuse.
He added in the motion that the recent enactment of the controversial Executive Order No. 006 as an Executive legislation which permits security agencies to freeze the assets of persons standing trial without recourse to court order as parts of assaults to provisions of the 1999 constitution.
He mentioned the release of the sum of $496 million United States dollars from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, for the purchase of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States Government without prior approval by the National Assembly as a clear case of direct contravention of section 80 of the 1999 Constitution.
He therefore prayed the Senate to urgently draw the attention of the Federal Government and its relevant authorities to the unfortunate development with a view to preventing the country’ s gradual descent into a chaotic state where violence and might rules and where fundamental rights are observed more in breach than in compliance.
But the APC Senators led by the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah kicked against the motion on the grounds that most of the instances cited by the sponsor are matters already in court.
Senator Na’Allah who raised a point of order in his objection was however ruled out of order by the Deputy Senate President who presided over the session.
He said the Senate should not discuss the issues because what were raised were presently in court, stressing that “I have looked at the content of this motion. I have a little problem with some of the content”.
Consequently, the Senate in its resolutions, urged the federal government to urgently empanel a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate all cases of human rights abuse allegedly committed by the Police, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies in the course of discharging their duties with a view to identifying the culprits and victims and offering redress where necessary.
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