…Lawmakers summon AGF over constitutional basis
…Want FG to empanel judicial inquiry into human rights abuses
In what can be referred to as looming friction between the Federal Government and the National Assembly over the former’s latest action to tackle corruption, the Senate on Tuesday faulted the action of President Muhammadu Buhari over Executive Order 6 and what it referred to as consistent assault on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The Upper chamber also claimed that Nigeria’s democracy is being threatened by what it called the sustained executive assault on the constitution as exemplified by the recent enactment of the Executive Order No. 006 by the President.
The Executive Order 6 is an Executive legislation that permits security agencies to freeze the assets of persons standing trial.
The Senate therefore summoned the Attorney – General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to appear before it in plenary and explain to the Senate the constitutional basis for the Executive Order No. 006 and the other Executive Orders which have been issued by the President in clear usurpation of the law making functions of the National Assembly.
The development followed a motion on “Alarming rise in cases of alleged human rights violations and consistent assault on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by the Executive”, sponsored by Senator David Umaru (APC, Niger East).
The Senate noted that several other Executive Orders have also effectively usurped legislative and judicial powers of the National Assembly and the judiciary as enshrined respectively under Sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution.
It also frowned at the release of $496million 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 in direct contravention of section 80 of the 1999 Constitution.
The Senate further berated the gradual descent of the country into anarchy and despotism as a result of indiscriminate arrests, unconstitutional detention of citizens under questionable circumstances.
It, therefore urged the Executive arm of government to urgently empanel a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate all cases of human rights abuses 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.
Senator Umaru in the motion listed on the Order Paper of the Senate proceedings for Tuesday cited “continuous detention of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) for over two years in total disregard of over four court orders including that of the ECOWAS Court which granted him bail pending his trial over money laundering charges;
“Continuous incarceration of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites, Sheik lbrahim El-Zakzaki, for over two years contrary to an order of the Federal High Court which ordered his release in 2016;
“Lack of accountability for human rights violations by security agencies and other militant elements including armed herdsmen; heavy-handed violent responses to peaceful protests as exemplified by previous crackdown on agitators of Indegenous People of Biafra (IP08) and the recent violent clashes between the police and suspected members of the IMN who were protesting the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaki, in Abuja and Kaduna respectively”.
The Senate was alarmed that in the recent past, allegations abound that the executive has not only consistently violated the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens particularly the rights to dignity of human person and right to personal liberty as guaranteed respectively under section 34 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution but also infringed on the constitution in several ways.
It added that notable instances of such human rights violations are well documented by the Human Rights Watch and other reputable human rights organisations.
According to the Senate, there is an urgent need for the National Assembly to draw the attention of the Executive arm of government and its relevant authorities to this 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.
It called on the Executive arm of government to demonstrate practical commitment to the observance of the rule of law especially in ensuring obedience to court orders and following due process in fulfillment of its constitutional obligation.
The Senate also asked the Executive arm of government to take necessary measures and/or establish necessary structures to ensure that all constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens are protected and observed by its security and law enforcement agencies in the discharge of their responsibilities and desist from further violation of the sacred principle of separation of powers and adopt the rule of law as the guiding principle of government actions.