The leader of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Bakare has urged the National Assembly to invoke the provision of the Section 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution on President Goodluck Jonathan whom it accused of financial recklessness.
According to the group, the president, through authorisation of payments of funds not appropriated for by the National Assembly to settle liability incurred through subsidy on petroleum product has acted in an unconstitutional way.
Quoting Section 80 of the Constitution, it noted that the section “establishes the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the Federation and that no money shall be withdrawn from such fund except to meet expenditure charged (first line) on it or where the issue of those moneys has been authorised by the legislature in pursuance of Section 81 of the Constitution.
“It further states that no moneys shall be withdrawn from any other fund of the Federation except authorised by an Act of the legislature and such Act shall also state the manner of such withdrawal.”
“Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution states that, ‘the President shall cause to be prepared and laid before each House of the National Assembly at any time in each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the Federation for the next following financial year’”, the SNG recalled.
Reviewing its position since it gave an indication to stage a mass protest two weeks ago, the SNG at a press statement on Monday however gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) opportunity to commence the arraignment of those indicted in the scam or risk popular protest.
Speaking on behalf of his group, the convener of SNG, Pastor Tunde Bakare faulted the national assembly over its decision not to act on the matter by merely warning of criminalisation of such breaches in the future.
While maintaining that responses of the government to the demand for “concrete action against those liable” have not be coherent and far reaching, Bakare accused the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke as double speaking, saying efforts should me made not to sweep the reports under the carpet.
Bakare wondered why the EFCC was still foot dragging on the issue of prosecuting all indicted persons in the subsidy probe as it had done in the past, citing the prosecution of members of the lower chambers who were indicted by the leadership of the Security Exchange Commission.
“If the EFCC could move swiftly to prosecute sitting representatives over a total of $8,190 (approximately N1.2m), our people will be outraged if it cannot do the same on the theft of N3 Trillion because those who are indicted are in the executive arm,” he said.
SNG also expressed its desire to test the potency of the two sections of the constitution as they relate to processes and mechanism for public revenue generation, appropriation as expenditure in the law courts.
Faulting the position of the national assembly on the issue of extra budgetary spending, Bakare said, “The issue of 1,100 percent overspend of the budget is a fundamental one. While we note the national assembly’s resolution that overspending should be criminalised in future, are we to take it that Sections 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution are not currently in operation?” he queried.
While calling for the invocation of the section, the group stated, “We are of the firm belief that the fiscal recklessness is a clear constitutional violation that should be dealt with as such and not gloss over.”