The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, said on Wednesday the National Assembly has the power to summon President Muhammadu Buhari on national issues, including the current security challenges in Nigeria.
He also described as strange, the claim by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), that the National Assembly lacks the powers to summon the president on the worsening insecurity in the land.
The House had last week invited the president to address the lawmakers following the killing of 43 rice farmers by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.
Buhari, who had agreed to appear before a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday, changed his mind on the matter Wednesday morning.
Malami, who confirmed the president’s U-turn in a statement, said the National Assembly lacks the constitutional powers to invite President Buhari as he is not answerable to them.
However in his reaction to Malami’s remarks via a statement titled: “Deputy Minority Leader Faults Malami on Buhari’s House Summons,” Okechukwu said the AGF was only airing the position of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said the president’s invitation was “a prudent effort on the part of the parliament to find a lasting solution to the worsening insecurity in the country.
According to him, President Buhari’s willingness to appear before the lawmakers was evident in his interaction with the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.
He urged the president to “rise above the legalese and political fray to show leadership in order to rally the Nigerians and their parliament to find lasting solutions to the growing insecurity in the country.”
Okechukwu said: “Without making undue efforts to win an argument, Section 89 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended clearly empowers the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with Section 62 of the Constitution to procure evidence, written or oral and to summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place.
“Therefore, the attempt to pressurise Mr. President not to appear clearly shows that some highly placed political actors in the ruling party are placing politics over the protection of lives of Nigerians. The APC is evidently fiddling with propaganda and politics while Nigeria burns.”