ABUJA, June 5 – Nigerian lawmakers on Tuesday issued a list of demands to the president, largely related to security, in the latest sign of strained relations between the executive and legislature months before the country goes to the polls.
President Muhammadu Buhari won election in 2015 mostly on his vow to improve security and fight corruption. But tensions with lawmakers and members of his own party have emerged in the last few months and critics have questioned his record.
Nigeria is beset by security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency and communal violence between farmers and herders. Critics of Buhari, a former military ruler, say his fight against corruption has only targeted his opponents.
Both houses of parliament held a rare joint session behind closed doors before stating their resolutions.
Security agencies must “curtail the sustained killings of Nigerians across the country and protect life and properties of Nigerians as this is the primary duty of any responsible government,” they said in one of the 12 resolutions.
Lawmakers also called for an end to the “systematic harassment and humiliation by the executive of perceived political opponents.”
“The National Assembly will not hesitate to evoke its constitutional powers if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today,” concluded lawmakers, who have the power to impeach the president.
A presidency spokesman declined to comment on the issues raised.
It is latest sign of discord between the presidency and parliament, who were embroiled in a standoff earlier this year over the confirmation of new members of the central bank’s monetary policy committee.
The resolutions were read out by Senate President Bukola Saraki, who on Sunday was asked by police to answer allegations that he had links to a gang behind a spate of armed robberies.
Saraki, who denied any wrongdoing, has been dogged by numerous accusations of misconduct since becoming Senate president in 2015, though none have led to convictions. He was not the ruling party’s preferred candidate, which caused strains in his relationship with Buhari.
Fissures within the ruling APC, a coalition party, have come to the fore in the last few months in the run-up to the February 2019 presidential election.
On Monday, in the wake of the allegations levelled at Saraki, a faction of the party with close ties to the Senate president issued a statement reiterating its complaint that many of its members felt ostracised.
“It has become evident that Mr. President must be called to order through an appropriate legislative instrument,” the opposition People’s Democratic Party said in a statement
President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, read the resolution from the session, which lasted over three hours, and declared that the lawmakers would not hesitate to move against the president if he failed to comply.
He enumerated the conditions as:
”1. The Security Agencies must be given marching orders to curtail the sustained killings of Nigerians across the country and protect lives and properties of Nigerians as this is the primary duty of any responsible government.
”2. The systematic harassment and humiliation by the Executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinions, including legislators and judiciary, by the police and other security agencies must stop.
”3. There must be strict adherence to the Rule of Law and protection for all citizens by the President and his appointees.
”4. The President must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction those that carry out any act which will ridicule or endanger our country and democracy.
”5. The Government should show sincerity in the fight against corruption by not being selective, and also prosecute current appointees that have cases pending against them.
”6. The sanctity of the National Assembly should be protected and preserved by the Federal Government of Nigeria by not interfering in its business, but prosecute those who invaded the Senate to seize the mace.
”7a. National Assembly should liaise with International Communities through the IPU, APU, ECOWAS, CPA, Parliament, Pan African Parliament, EU, UN, US Congress and UK Parliament to secure our democracy.
”b. Democratic elections must be competitive and inclusive by removing the present reign of fear and intimidation, particularly as we approach the 2019 elections.
”8. The National Assembly will work closely with Civil Society Organisations, Trade Unions and NGOs to further deepen and protect our democracy.
”9. The President must take immediate steps to contain the growing level of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria, especially now that we have advantage of the oil price having risen to 80 dollars per barrel.
”10. Both chambers of the National Assembly hereby pass a vote-of-confidence on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly.
”11a. We reaffirm our earlier resolution of vote-of-no-confidence on the Inspector-General of Police, who does nothing other than preside over the killing of innocent Nigerians and consistent framing up of perceived political opponents of the President.
“b.The Inspector-General of Police has outright disregard for constitutional authority, both executive and legislative.
”12. Finally, the National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its Constitutional powers if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today (Tuesday).”
Court disrupt plot to reveal Buhari’s medical bill and illness
Meanwhile a Federal High Court judge ruled on Tuesday to disrupt plot to reveal the cost of his treatment for an undisclosed illness that incapacitated him for several months, a
Buhari, 75, spent a large part of last year in London but the exact nature of his condition remains a mystery. He has said only that it involved multiple blood transfusions and tests.
His absence from the helm of Africa’s most populous nation prompted speculation about his fitness to govern — as well as whether Nigerian taxpayers footed his private medical bill.
Civil society group the Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative made a freedom of information request to the Central Bank of Nigeria for details.
When the request was denied, trustees took the CBN and its governor Godwin Emefiele to court.
Judge John Tsoho said the Freedom of Information Act provided for an exemption where personal information is not publicly available and the individual has not consented.
“There is no evidence of the president having consented to disclosure of personal information relating to his health and the information is certainly not publicly available,” he said.
“I therefore hold that the information sought by the applicant… is exempt,” he told the Federal High Court in Abuja in a ruling.
“On the whole, the applicants’ suit is not sustained and it is struck out.”
The judge said the applicants should have sought the information from the office of the president’s chief of staff but he would likely have refused for the same reasons.
Representatives from the civil society group made no comment afterwards, according to an AFP reporter.
The group previously sought an injunction to stop Buhari being sworn in as president after his election victory in 2015.
Buhari is seeking a second four-year term at polls in February next year