BY AHURAKA ISAH AND SOLOMON AYADO, ABUJA |
Like a phoenix, the feud between the executive and the legislature got a fresh life of its own yesterday when the Senate relied on a comment made by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo some months to suspend further confirmation of appointees of the president.
The lawmakers chided the executive arm of government for refusing to strictly adhere to legislative decisions in particular and the 1999 constitution (as amended) in general.
They showed the acting president the yellow card, warning that any further move to undermine the powers of the legislative arm of government will amount to crossing the red line.
The Red Chamber resolved during plenary to suspend further confirmation of nominees from the executive until it implements past resolutions by the Senate concerning all issues relating to confirmation in line with provisions of the constitution and laws of the federation.
The resolution by the Senate was made subsequent to a letter from the acting president requesting for the confirmation of Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila as the chairman of National Lottery Commission.
Outrightly rejecting the presidential request, the lawmakers resurrected the comment credited to Osinbajo some months ago that the Senate does not have legislative powers to confirm certain nominees of the executive.
The upper legislative chamber, which resumed from a two-week mid-term break yesterday, asked Osinbajo to withdraw same immediately, even as it further maintained that acting president should choose either to respect the constitution and laws as it relates to confirmation of appointments and obey the rejection of all nominees by it or face appropriate legislative action.
The Senators were also peeved by the continuous retention of Ibrahim Magu in office as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the presidency against his (Magu’s) rejection, while at the same time expecting them to confirm other nominees forwarded for approval.
Senate President Bukola Saraki who read the acting president’s letter on the confirmation of Gbajabiamila during plenary said, “This is an issue that we have to once and for all address. We cannot pass laws and see that the laws are not being obeyed.
“This resolution must be obeyed by the acting president, otherwise we will take appropriate actions and resolutions”.
The Senate had on March 25, rejected Magu as substantive chairman of EFCC, following report by the Department of State Service (DSS), which expressed reservations on Magu’s appointment.
Displeased with the action of the lawmakers, Osinbajo said the Senate lacked the power to reject anyone nominated for appointment by the presidency, vowing that Magu will not be removed from office as demanded by the Red Chamber.
Yesterday, Senator Ahmad Sani (APC Zamfara West) came under Point of Order 42 of the Senate Standing Rule to urge the upper legislative chamber to stop the confirmation of Gbajabiamila as the Lottery Commission boss based on the acting president’s alleged comment.
The lawmaker wondered why Osinbajo was requesting for the nominee’s confirmation after he had reportedly said that the Senate lacks power of confirmation on certain nominees from the presidency.
Speaking in the same vein, Senator George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East) said the executive was only trying to take over the powers of the Senate, just as he wondered whether the acting president was in touch with the EFCC Act, which states that the president shall nominate and Senate will confirm.
He explained that rejecting Senate’s resolution is similar to that of the constitution, adding that “there is nothing like executive orders in a democratic constitution.
“The constitution did not give room for acting appointment after a nominee has been rejected by the Senate. If the acting president says we do not have the power to confirm and then turns around to send us a nomination, which one do we now take?” Sekibo queried.
Also Senators Sam Anyanwu (PDP Imo East) and Isa Misau (APC Bauchi central) wondered why the Senate was still accepting letters of confirmation. They called for suspension of action on all nomination requests by the presidency.
According to Senator Anyanwu, if the presidency fails to adhere to Senate’s resolution within 48 hours, the upper house should move against the leadership, adding that “anybody who is invited by the EFCC should not go because they are not standing on any law”.
On his part, Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) reiterated his call for the removal of Magu as EFCC boss, saying the integrity of the Senate is at stake if he continues to remain in office after he had been rejected by the legislature.
“This Senate cannot be disregarded and insulted. Our authority to confirm cannot be eroded. Magu is not the last Nigerian Angel. He can serve this country in another capacity”, he said.
Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC Osun Central) said the responsibilities of the Senate as contained in the constitution must be respected by the executive, explaining that “whether you serve in the executive, legislature or the judiciary, everyone is called to obey the laws of the federal republic.
“If there is any law passed by the National Assembly, signed by the president and gazzeted, no one has the permission to dance around that law. Whoever has a problem with any law should go to court. Until a court declares it null and void it remains the law of the land. Anyone who does not respect it is breaking the law of the land”, he stressed.
In his contribution, the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, said the constitution gives power of confirmation to the Senate, stressing that only the personal staff of the president was not applied.