- The Senate wants the judiciary to interpret the powers of the executive when it comes to appointments
- Senate's deputy spokesman Ben Murray-Bruce says the Red Chamber would officially reveal its position on Tuesday, May 2
- Not all lawmakers in the upper house of legislature are happy with the proposed move to place embargo on President Buhari's nominations
The last appears not to have been heard about the conflict between the Presidency and the National Assembly over President Buhari’s determination to keep Ibrahim Magu as EFCC boss even after being rejected twice by the Senate.
The Punch reports that the upper house of legislature has concluded plans to block confirmation of nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari. This, the report says, is part of the lawmakers’ strategies for a showdown with the Presidency.
It was gathered on Sunday, April 30 that the Senate chose this line of action after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law, backed human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) that Section 171 of the Constitution empowers the President to make some appointments without the approval of the National Assembly.
The Punch quotes an anonymous source in the leadership of the Senate as saying that the legislature and the executive have conflicting interpretation of the Constitution on their powers and responsibilities.
The embargo on appointments would now be placed until an intervention by the judiciary is achieved.
According to the source, the executive should go to court and not the legislature to get an interpretation of its powers. The National Assembly source said on Sunday: “There is going to be a constitutional crisis in Nigeria because the Senate is now at a crossroads on what to do with the nominations made by the President for which he is seeking the confirmation by the Senate.
“Going by what Osinbajo said on Magu, it means that the nation’s Presidents from 1999, who sent nominations to the Senate for confirmation, had all breached the Constitution. Even Buhari, who has been sending nominations to the Senate, was not properly advised.”
The source added: “They may not (be considered, including those of the CBN, NERC and others just sent to the Senate, because of the claims made by the Vice-President. He spoke as if he was speaking the mind of the President. “They (Presidency) should proceed to court to seek endorsement for their position.
It is their business to go to the court, not the Senate’s. The Vice President has already stalled the nomination and confirmation processes by his unguarded statements. “He somehow agreed with Falana that there is no need for legislative confirmation for the appointments. With the Section 171 claim by the Vice-President, the Senate is now at a crossroads on whether to go on with the confirmation (of appointments) or adopt the new claim by the Presidency.
“The National Assembly follows established laws, which have been used for all dealings with the other arms of government. If they now have a contrary view, they should go to court.” The Punch however reports that the move by the Senate is not a widely accepted one as some lawmakers are against it.
A All Progressives Congress member of the upper house said the move would only make the Senate even more unpopular following series of recent actions that have received massive backlash.
The lawmaker said: “Between you and I, that is rubbish. The issue of Magu is rubbish; the issue of (the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service) Hameed Ali is rubbish. “If some of us insist on Magu’s removal and Ali should appear before the Senate in uniform, how does that put food on the table of Nigerians? And we are supposed to focus on what can improve the life of the average Nigerians; we are not doing that.
But we are busy with Ali, Magu and other issues. It is so unfortunate.”
He said: “By Tuesday, Senator Sabi (Abdullahi) will speak on the issue as reflected by the joint decision of the Senate. Nobody can take any individual position (on the matter); the Senate will take the position. “Sabi will take that position because I have not gotten any official communication from the Senate and I don’t have any opinion (on the matter).
NAIJ.com had earlier reported weeks back that following EFCC acting chairman Ibrahim Magu’s saga, the Nigerian Senate was considering taking the matter of confirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees to the Supreme Court.
The Senate had been concerned about submissions by legal luminaries like Femi Falana and others that President Buhari’s appointments were not subject to confirmation by the legislature. Particularly worrisome to lawmakers in the upper house of legislature are the contents of section 171 of the constitution which the legal commentators use to buttress claims that Magu does not need the Senate’s confirmation.
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