By Cosmas Omegoh
Former Senate president Dr Bukola Saraki has come to say that claims that the 8th Senate hindered President Buhari’s fight against insecurity was unfounded, insisting that it rather aided it.
Saraki was reacting to a press statement by Prof. Ishaq Akintola’ MURIC, saying that the claim was propaganda which was “factually and constitutionally incorrect.”
In a release by his Media Office signed by Oluwole Onemola, Saraki noted that “Prof. Ishaq Akintola’s statement intentionally attempts to re-write history by falsely suggesting that the Saraki-led 8th Senate ‘rejected the President’s request for $1billion for the purchase of arms.” However, the truth is that the 8th Senate never rejected any fund request for security but only insisted that the due process provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic should be adhered to even by the Executive branch.
He noted that “this is why, in order to enlighten the public about the facts, and once again put it on record for posterity’s sake, it is important to reiterate the following points: that On Wednesday, the 25th of April 2018, the then-President of the Senate, Sen. Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari, which stated that he had granted ‘anticipatory approval’ for the release of $496,374,470. These funds were said to have been paid directly to the Treasury of the United States (U.S.) government.
“However, in line with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the overarching legal framework on which our republic is founded, the powers of appropriation are specifically and only conferred on the National Assembly in Sections 80 to 84. Additionally, nowhere in our Constitution is the principle of ‘anticipatory approval’ provided for. This means, that Mr. President did not follow the proper procedure during this constitutionally-flawed and thoroughly unprecedented ‘anticipatory approval.’ Still, the National Assembly went ahead to approve the money that the executive has started disbursing without approval. Thus, $1billion was approved by the 8th National Assembly.”
The immediate past President of the Senate recalled that “we all need to remember that at this time, based on allegations of human rights violations by the Military, there was a U.S. Government ban on the sale of offensive equipment to Nigeria in compliance with the Leahy’s Law. However, it was only after the U.S. Congressional Delegation met with the Nigerian National Assembly delegation in Nigeria on Monday, August 28th, 2017, that reassurances were made by the Nigerian Senate President on behalf of the National Assembly – that the Nigerian National Assembly delegation promised that it would look into the allegations of human rights violations, and work to prevent any future recurrence.
“It was at this time that the U.S. Congressional delegation, which was led by Senator Chris Coons and Ambassador Symington agreed to make the lifting of the U.S ban on the sale of military hardware to Nigeria one of their priorities. It was after this meeting that the U.S. Congress recommended the sale of the Tucano Jets to Nigeria to President Trump.”
He said it was important to note that in order to ensure that the Nigerian Armed Forces were properly equipped, the 8th Nigerian Senate invited the Service Chiefs on several occasions to the plenary to discuss funding for their operations, and to ensure that they were well-equipped to handle the necessary security challenges.
He said it was important for the public, especially Prof. Ishaq Akintola and MURIC, to be well aware that the 8th Senate has a clear-cut track record of working to tackle issues related to insecurity head-on.