OrderPaperToday – Senators were today embroiled in a heated exchange of words following a motion by Senator David Umaru (APC, Niger) on the “alarming rise in cases of alleged human rights violations and consistent assault on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by the Executive” led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Senator Umaru while speaking on the motion noted that in the last few years, Nigeria’s democratic credentials have become questionable as a result of the disturbing cases of alleged state-inspired human rights violations and consistent constitutional breaches perpetrated by agencies of government.
“In the recent past, allegations abound that the Executive has not only consistently violated the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens particularly the rights to dignity of human person and right to personal liberty but also infringed on the constitution in several ways,” he said.
Giving instances of such violations, the Niger Senator listed the continuous detention and incarceration of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiite despite various court rulings ordering their release.
Other cases of alleged violation according to Umaru include a lack of accountability for human rights violations by security agencies and other militant elements including armed herdsmen; heavy-handed violent responses to peaceful protests as exemplified by previous crackdown an agitators for the Independent State of Biafra (IPOB).
While raising alarm over what he described as “sustained executive assault on the constitution,” he condemned the controversial Executive Order No. 006 as an Executive legislation which permits security agencies to freeze the assets of persons standing trial without recourse to court order.
Senator Umaru also criticised the inadequate security protection for courts in the country and the release of the sum of $496 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) by the President without prior approval by the National Assembly.
Immediately, Umaru finished his submission, a debate characterised by fierce underground murmurings ensued on the floor.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah in his contribution argued that some of the cases listed by Umaru are in court while the issue of unauthorised withdrawal of $496 million by the President “has been laid to rest”.
On the other hand, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) expressed his support for Umaru’s motion warning that the country was sliding into “dictatorship,” a term that did not sit well with Senator Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano) who asked Sani to withdraw his dictatorship comment, stressing that democracy is fully operational in the country.
Also speaking, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi disassociated himself from the “letter, spirit and content” of the motion, accusing the sponsor of trying to rubbish the government of President Buhari before the international community on allegations of human rights violation which he said have not “reached the level of alarm”.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) in his remarks however expressed his displeasure at the submission of Abdullahi as he narrated his personal experience saying he was arrested on the streets and detained for days.
At this point, the presiding officer, Ike Ekweremadu, refused to take further comments from many senators who were eager to speak including former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume.
The Senate then accordingly resolved to summon the Attorney- General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to appear before it in plenary and explain the constitutional basis for the controversial Executive order No. 006 and other Executive Orders which have “usurped” of the law making functions of the National Assembly.
In addition, the red chamber urged the Federal Government to urgently empanel a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate all cases of human rights abuse allegedly committed by security agencies.
Other adopted resolutions include a call on the Federal Government to demonstrate practical commitment to the observance of the rule of law while taking necessary measures to protect the rights of citizens as well as desisting from further violation of the sacred principle of separation of powers.
Meanwhile, Senator David Umaru while speaking to journalists after today’s sitting maintained that he had no hidden agenda against the President but that he was merely fulfilling his moral and constitutional duty to the country.