OrderPaperToday – A bill seeking to amend the Constitution to grant powers to the National Assembly to summon the President and Governors of the 36 States to answer to issues of insecurity or any other matter whatsoever has scaled through second reading in the House of Representatives.
According to Mr. Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo) the sponsor, the bill seeks to amend the Principal Act so as to expressly provide that the two chambers of the National Assembly and States’ Houses of Assembly have powers to summon the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Governors of the States of the Federation respectively, to answer questions on issues of national security or any matter whatsoever, over which the National Assembly and States Houses of Assembly have powers to make laws.
In his argument, the Edo lawmaker held that “in December, 2020 and in a bid to find answers to the security challenges bedeviling our nation, a resolution was passed by this hallowed Chambers, calling on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to appear before this House and provide explanations on the rising cases of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of killings in the country. This summon came on the hills of a motion of urgent national importance, moved by Hon. Satomi Ahmed.
“In his reaction to the summons of the House on the President, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) said that the National Assembly has no powers to summon the President. He averred that the management and control of the security sector is exclusively vested in the President by Section 218 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces including the power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces.”
He also referenced that the AGF in one of his reaction to Mr. President’s invitation by National Assembly asserted that “an invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the Armed Forces to public interrogation is indeed taking the constitutional rights of law making beyond bounds.”
He continued: “the Nigerian Presidential system of government is modeled after the American Presidential system of government and ever since America became independent, every American President has always given an annual “State of the Union Address” as prescribed in Article 2, section 3, clause 1 of the American Constitution. Whereas our Constitution has no such specific provision, section 4 of the 1999 Constitution, gives the National Assembly powers to make laws for the good governance of the nation or any part thereof.
“This power to make law also carries a corollary power to conduct investigation into any matter or thing over which it has powers to make laws. This is as enshrined in section 88 (1) and (2) of the Constitution.
“Section 4 (1) – (2) of the 1999 Constitution provides that: “(1) The legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.”
The bill was passed when the presiding officer, Femi Gbajabiamila, posed the question and referred to the Committee on constitutional review.