Lawyers react as Malami said National Assembly lacks power to summon Buhari
- Nigeria may have been thrown into a constitutional crisis following AGF Malami's statement that the federal lawmakers cannot summon President Buhari
- Some prominent lawyers who have reacted to the AGF's position hold diverse views as they quote relevant constitutional provisions to back their positions
- While Falana faulted Malami's stance, another lawyer Inibehe Effiong said the AGF's statement is in line with the constitution
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Following the recent brutal attacks and killings by the Boko Haram insurgents, the House of Representatives invited President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly to explain what he is doing to solve the security crisis in the country.
Subsequently, the president agreed to appear before a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday, December 10.
However, in what some Nigerians have described as an embarrassment, the governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) urged the president not to address members of the National Assembly.
Also, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the National Assembly has no constitutional power to summon President Buhari.
Malami added that the operational use of the armed forces is the prerogative of the president and not subject to debate.
He said the president could freely address the National Assembly whenever he wanted, but could not be summoned to do so.
Does National Assembly truly lack power to summon Buhari? Senior lawyers react
A prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has faulted the AGF's claim, according to a report by The Punch.
Falana argued that the National Assembly has the powers to summon the president to appear before it.
“By the combined effect of sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution, the National Assembly is empowered to summon any public officer, including the President, in the course of investigating any matter concerning which it has the power to make laws and the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly.”
Another lawyer, Norrison Quakers (SAN) also faulted Malami’s stand that the president could not be summoned by the National Assembly.
Quakers noted that the National Assembly, as the organ of government that enacts laws, has the right to summon violators of any provisions of the constitution, including the president of the country.
He added that the National Assembly also has the power to impeach a president when he violates the provisions of the constitution.
However, another senior lawyer, Yusuf Ali, aligned with Malami's position. He said though the National Assembly could summon political office holders, the president could not be forced to discuss security issues in the public.
Ali said the lawmakers have the power to summon public officials, including the president, "but the content of what will be discussed in the open is a different thing entirely."
"The AGF is correct to a certain extent that the issue of security cannot be discussed.”
Similarly, a fast-rising human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said Malami is "correct in his view that the National Assembly has no power to compel President Buhari to appear before them."
He explained further:
"This is based on Section 67 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which gives the president a discretion whether to attend the National Assembly or not."
The lawyer who is also a prominent critic of the Buhari government went ahead to quote the relevant section of the constitution to buttress his claim.
"Sec 67(1) states thus:
"The President MAY attend any joint meeting of the National Assembly or any meeting of either House of the National Assembly, either to deliver an address on national affairs, including fiscal measures, or to make such statement on the policy of government as he considers to be of national importance."
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Meanwhile, a new report by the Good Governance Index (GGI) has said that poor governance, lack of accountability at the state and local government level is responsible for the growing insecurity in some parts of Nigeria.
From the report seen by Legit.ng, it was gathered that the research conducted by GGI shows that poverty is more prevalent in local areas thereby causing some level of insecurity.
At the launch of the report by GGI's special rapporteur, Thomas Uzah, in Abuja, the group said that majority of the security challenges experienced in various communities across the country is due to the failure to hold public officers accountable.
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