Senators call for Buhari’s impeachment over purchase of Tucano jets
Some Nigerian senators on Thursday, April 26, raised hairs and called for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari for not seeking the approval of the National Assembly before the withdrawal of a hefty $496 million used for the purchase of Tucano jets from the United States. The money had since been paid to the US government while request to the National Assembly for its appropriation arrived months later.
Some senators described the action as a breach of the Constitution citing section 80 of the constitution. The non-adherence to the tenets of the constitution was viewed strongly as a denigration of due process of the law where the procedure and an impeachable offence.
Short of proceeding with impeachment debate and proceedings, the Senate mandated Senator David Umaru (APC Niger East) Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters to investigate the matter and report back at plenary next Wednesday.
While recognizing that the issues raised by the various senators on the matter were germane and valid, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, prevailed on his colleagues to exercise restraint and await further advice from the judiciary committee.
The move by the Senate followed a motion by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide,( PDP, Edo South) who argued that the action of President Buhari was a complete violation of the law and asked that section 143 should be invoked. The motion was supported by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North. ”It is an impeachable offence, things must be done in their right perspectives,” Utazi fumed.
Senator Urhoghide’s motion followed presentation of the Executive Communication on Inclusion of USD 496, 374, 470 (Equivalent of N151, 394, 494, 335.00) in the year 2018 Appropriation Bill that the Senate do consider the request of Mr. President C-n-C on the inclusion of USD 496, 374, 470 (Equivalent of N151, 394, 494, 335.00) only in the year 2018 Appropriation Bill for the purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft from the US Government by the deputy Senate leader, Senator Bala Ibn.
Senator Urhoghide quoted Section 143 of the constitution thus:
“1) The President or Vice-President may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly:- (a) is presented to the President of the Senate; “b) stating that the holder of the office of President or Vice-President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified, the President of the Senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the National Assembly.
(3) Within fourteen days of the presentation of the notice to the President of the Senate (whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice) each House of the National Assembly shall resolve by motion without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated.
(4) A motion of the National Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed, unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly.
(5) Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions, the Chief Justice of Nigeria shall at the request of the President of the Senate appoint a Panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegation as provide in this section.
(6) The holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person and be represented before the Panel by legal practitioners of his own choice. (7) A Panel appointed under this section shall – (a) have such powers and exercise its functions in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed by the National Assembly; and (b) within three months of its appointment report its findings to each House of the National Assembly.
(8) Where the Panel reports to each House of the National Assembly that the allegation has not been proved, no further proceedings shall be taken in respect of the matter.
(9) Where the report of the Panel is that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within fourteen days of the receipt of the report at the House the National Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of each House of the National Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, the report of the Panel is adopted, then the holder of the office shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.
(10) No proceedings or determination of the Panel or of the National Assembly or any matter relating thereto shall be entertained or questioned in any court.
(11) In this section – “gross misconduct” means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion of the National Assembly to gross misconduct.”