Senate, Summons SGF Over Remarks
…Threatens To Issue Warrant Of Arrest On AGF
The face-off between the Senate and the executive over litigations against the leadership of the Senate deepened as the upper legislative chamber summoned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, to appear before its assigned committees over alleged offensive remarks.
Aside from the SGF, the Senate also threatened to issue warrant of arrest on the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, if he fails again to appear before its committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for explanations on alleged forgery litigation slammed against Senate President Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekwerenadu, and two others, before the end of this week.
The Senate’s summons on the SGF was a product of a resolution to a motion moved by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South).
He is to appear before the Senate Committees on Ethics, Finance and Appropriation to offer explanation on recent remark made by him that constituency projects would not be implementable in the 2016 budget.
Urhoghide in the motion drew the attention of the Senate to a publication of Daily Trust dated June 28, 2016 where the SGF among others, declared that the constituency projects in the 2016 budget would not be implemented by the relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government due to paucity of fund.
He wondered why the SGF would single out constituency projects meant for the National Assembly which is less than 1% of the entire N6.6 trillion budget.
According to him, the executive arm of government has severally gone against the laid down provisions of the constitution as regards budgetary procedures, a development which, he noted, constitute impeachable offences.
He, therefore, warned that going ahead with the non implementation of constituency project as maintained by the SGF would leave the Senate with no alternative but draw the sword of Damocles against the presidency.
Lawal had in the interview said: “The government might find it very difficult to implement the constituency projects to the letter because MDAs might not find constituency projects as critical to the execution of their mandates and given the dwindling resources, these could be some of the areas that would suffer during implementation”.
Senator Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South), who seconded the motion, reminded the Senate of the SGF’s alleged disparaging remarks on those who participated in the 2014 National Confab and the reports itself in the same interview.
According to her, Lawal in the interview described the confab report as non critical to the present government, being more or less, a job given to the boys by the last immediate past administration.
He declared that the Senate should not allow any appointee of the executive arm of government to ridicule it in anyway, saying, “We should not allow any political appointee to take this chamber for a ride”.
Though Urhoghide and senators who supported the motion wanted SGF to appear before the Senate as a whole, but Senate President Bukola Saraki in his ruling, amended it by assigning Senate committees on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions in collaboration with Finance and Appropriation to summon him for appearance before them this week over the alleged offensive remarks.
On the other hand, the AGF is to appear before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on failingly by Friday this week, having failed to honour two previous summons issued him by the committee.
This was sequel to a report submitted to the Senate by the committee’s chairman, David Umoru (APC, Niger East), declaring that Malami has not honored any of the invitations extended to him by the committee since last month, when the Senate called for explanations from him through resolution over forgery case against Saraki and others.
In his ruling on the report, Senate President Bukola Saraki threatened that if the AGF failed to appear before the committee this week, the Senate would have no other option than to exercise its constitutional powers in making him to appear.
He said: “We all heard the explanation of the chairman on Judiciary, and what he is trying to get across to us here is to tell us the status of the situation because what we have been reading in the papers was of great concern where the number one judicial officer of the country will be the one that will be flouting the constitution. Because 89 (c) is very clear.
“But it appears from what you are saying that the Attorney General is requesting for one more chance to be given to appear before you. And I think as a Senate, it is always in the progress of development. And as such we will do that and ensure that he does come this time, otherwise we will have no choice than to follow the constitution strictly.
“So, you will report back to us before the end of the week to let us know the status of that situation. And if that does not happen, we will go ahead and go in line with the constitution very clearly”.