- Lawmakers okay suspension, APC Reps protest, stage walk out
The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, witnessed a rowdy session as All Progressives Congress (APC) House members protested the adoption of a resolution asking President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend the implementation of the executive order on corruption.
The protest led to House proceedings being disrupted temporarily, as APC lawmakers kicked against the ruling of the Speaker of the House: Hon Yakubu Dogara on a motion sponsored by Hon Ossal Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) and 25 others seeking whether the Executive Order 006 complied with provisions of the 1999 Contitution (as amended).
In spite of the protests by APC members, the House further resolved to invite the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the chairman of the Nigerian Law Reform Commission to appear before it with a comprehensive list of all subsidiary legislations published in the federal gazette.
It also agreed to constitute an ad hoc committee to scrutinise and investigate all subsidiary legislations and executive orders currently in existence.
APC House members shouting “no, no, no” to the speaker’s ruling on the motion, expressed support for the President in issuing the executive order to assist in the fight against corruption.
After a heated debate on the motion titled: “Urgent need to investigate the constitutional compliance of all subsidiary legislations and executive arm of government” and threats of a walk out by the angry APC lawmakers, Speaker Dogara called for a voice vote with the ayes carrying the day.
Before Dogara’s ruling, the first and second voice vote appeared stalemated, as the voices of those backing and opposing the motion appeared difficult to decipher as to which group was in the majority.
However, the speaker resolved the dilemma by ruling in favour of the ayes, thereby sparking protests from opponents of the motion some of whom eventually staged a walk out.
Leading debate on the motion, Hon Ossai said that the recent executive order signed into law by Buhari on July 5, “appears to hijack and usurp legislative and judicial powers by the executive arm of government”.
He said the executive order empowered the executive to restrict dealings in suspicious assets subjected to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption.
Ossai further argued that 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 taking of possession of property for the purpose of any examination, investigation or inquiry.
According to him, executive powers shall extend to the execution and maintenance of the constitution and all laws made by the National Assembly.
The lawmaker maintained that 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 (ACJA) 2015 and certain provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He added that “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 victimise perceived political opponents”.
But Hon Ralph Igbokwe (APC, Imo), countered Ossai’s argument by raising a constitutional point of order, seeking the withdrawal of the motion.
He submitted that the House should allow lawmakers to either individually or collectively seek interpretation of the constitutional and legal provisions in contention as regards the executive order.
Hon Igbokwe was however ruled out of order by Dogara.
Supporting the motion, Hon Bode Ayorinde argued that the signing of the executive order by the president was akin to combining both legislative and executive functions, adding that the constitution did not envisage such a scenario.
He was supported by Hon Jerry Alagbaso (PDP, Imo), who submitted that the controversial executive order was not a matter to be debated based on party lines.
“It is not an issue of the APC or the PDP, but we have to kill this executive order,” he insisted.
Others lawmakers, who spoke in support of the motion include, Hon. Dan Asuquo, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, Nuhu Danburam, Samson Okwu, Jerry Alagbaso and Bassey Ewah. Others were Hon Dennis Agbo, Rima Shawulu and Linus Okorie.
Opposing the motion, however, Hon Mojeed Alabi (APC, Osun), argued that the executive order cannot be stopped by the House because it was based on the powers conferred on the president by the constitution.
Similarly, Hon Sadiq Ibrahim (APC, Adamawa), opposed the motion, asserting that the president derived the powers to issue the executive order from two sources: the constitution and the EFCC Act.
He said the president acted based on the provisions of the law enacted by the National Assembly.
Also, opposing the motion, Hon Ralph Igbokwe (APC, Imo), said that the president was right in issuing the executive order based on the many decided court cases classifying executive orders as legislations.
According to Hon Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), by virtue of Section 5 of the constitution, the president was right to issue executive orders for the maintenance of law and order and to regulate abuse of power.
But when Speaker Dogara ruled in favour of the motion after a seeming controversial voice vote, those opposed to the motion verbally protested, while others resorted to stage a walk out.