The Senate on Thursday tasked its judiciary committee on Judiciary for legal advice on the motion for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari which was moved by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Matthew Urhoghide.
President Buhari was said to have arbitrarily approved the sum of $496 million for the purchase of Super Tucano fighter jets for the Nigerian Military without consent of the National Assembly.
Senator Urhoghide, representing Edo South senatorial district, consequently, moved the motion for the invocation of Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution, which deals with impeachment of the President for voiding due process.
Citing Orders 15, 42 & 52, Urhoghide said the matter should be forwarded to the appropriate committee.
“The President’s request is wrong, it’s a violation of our process, proceedings and the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“It’s a violation of Section 80 subsection 1, 2, 3, 4. The procedure of the expenditure is wrong. There ought to be an appropriation before such expenditure.
“I hereby request that the SP, Bukola Saraki should invoke Section 18 of the Constitution,” the Senator said.
“I rise to second this motion with Section 80 subsection 2 and 3. We are still on the appropriation bill, we have not finished it, Service chiefs were appointed without the approval of the Senate.
“This Tucano helicopters are to be brought in 2020, why include it now in appropriation. This is an impeachable offense,” Senator Chukwuka Utazi, representing Enugu North constituency said.
In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani said, “We are not ignorant of the security challenges that are going on in the country and how it affects the stability of our country.
“I appreciate the efforts of the FG to bring an end to the killings in Nigeria but this is no reason to breach the Constitution”.
“This is a gross violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is very clear to us that we are failing as a government and as a nation. We should be calling for refund and exercise due process,” he further said.
Senator Sam Anyanwu on his part said, “We should look into this as it is obvious that there is a breach of Constitution”.
“I rise on Section 83 subsection 1 and 2. I suggest we forward this matter to the Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters,” Senator Bala Na’allah said.
“Distinguished Colleagues, I think we have taken contributions from everyone. I also think that the contribution of the Leader addresses two issues and we must take note of them:
“One, the concerns we have, as Senator Shehu Sani said, all of us agree that there is definitely security concerns in our country.
“At the same time, we all agree that from what has been presented to us definitely there is a breach of Constitution.
“The question is what are the circumstances surrounding the breach of Constitution and whether those circumstances justify the breach of Constitution.
“I am sure you will all remember that in August 2017, when I got the message from the U.S. Ambassador, that the Senate Committee at the Congress of the United States wanted to visit us because they had received a request from President Trump to approve for payment of the Tucano but they needed Congress approval.
“Congress wanted to come to Nigeria to speak with their counterparts.
“I led the team with members of the House of Representatives and members here in the Senate and we met with the members of Congress on this issue. We were aware at that time of the issues.
“Between September and February with all due respect, there was ample time for the Executive to have carried us along on this issue.
“There are arguments for and against and those arguments are valid.
“The suggestion of the Leader, that we should send it to the Judiciary Committee to: 1. Advise whether truly the constitution has been breached; 2. Whether the circumstances justify the breach in any way.
“What do we do going forward in trying to appropriate because the funds have already been spent.
“Do we go under what the Leader has come under or we start the whole process of appropriating.
“It was after we agreed in September that the US Congress went back to give approval to the Executive to go ahead to sell the Tucano to Nigeria.
“If you will all agree, we should refer the matter to the Judiciary Committee and give them a short period of time.
“By Wednesday next week they should present their report to us,” Saraki said.
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