It is only the Senate President, or in his absence, the Deputy Senate President, that can reconvene a properly adjourned session when the Senate is on its annual recess.
There has, of recent, been some focus and hoopla about whether or not the president, or some 30 All Progressive Congress (APC) senators can forcefully reconvene an already adjourned Senate for the purpose of considering the N228b supplementary budget required by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 election, or even for the purpose of impeaching the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
READ ALSO: The Tinubu Rhetoric – My Response, by Saraki
The interesting times we are in as I predicted in my June 28, 2015 write up at the back page of Sunday Telegraph, are that the ruling APC controls the Executive, whilst the opposition PDP controls the legislature, at least at the Senate level. My humble take on this is that it would tantamount to a grave constitutional anathema and legal harakiri for the president or any faction of the Senate to forcefully or unilaterally reconvene an already adjourned Senate, which is on its annual recess, before the expiration of the vacation period.
It is only the Senate President, or in his absence, the Deputy Senate President, that can reconvene a properly adjourned session when the Senate is on its annual recess. The only time the president can be constitutionally and legally involved in matters concerning Senate or House of Representatives sitting is as provided for in sections 64(3) and 105(3) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered. This allows the president to make a proclamation for the National Assembly to be inaugurated at the beginning of a legislative session.
President Muhammadu Buhari did this on the 9th of June 2015, when he duly inaugurated the 8th NASS, at which session Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, were duly elected as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively. After this compulsory constitutional duty, the president ceases to have any claim over sittings of the bicameral legislature.
What some politically motivated analysts fail to understand is that consideration of budgets for the purpose of appropriation of funds under sections 80 to 83 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution can only be done jointly by the Senate and House of Representatives. None of the two chambers, red and green, can unilaterally pass budget or supplementary budget. What goes around comes around! It must be noted by all that the sudden deft adjournment by the Senate on Tuesday rather than the initial envisaged Thursday, was a pre-emptive step by the Senate to prevent the carefully choreographed impeachment moves of the Senate leadership spearheaded by the Executive arm of government, which had successfully and manipulatively used the Police, EFCC and DSS to blockade the official residences of Saraki and Ekweremadu, for the sole purpose of illegally impeaching them.
Such impunity and abuse of state institutions for the achievement of political objectives is doing much damage to our democratic ethos and moral nuances. The presidency thereby unwittingly cut its nose to spite its face. Those who bring maggot-infested pieces of firewood to their homes should not complain about invasion of lizards.
All hope is not lost as there are still two options and window of opportunity open to Mr President where he genuinely believes that passage of the budget is of extreme national urgency and that there are no other available funds for immediate virement to take care of INEC before resumption of the NASS. He can write a passionate letter to the NASS leadership through their various Clerks requesting the two Houses to reconvene to consider the urgent issue of supplementary budget. The second option is to involve the 3rd arm of government, the judiciary, to use its judicial powers under section 6 of the Constitution to make a mandatory order of mandamus compelling the NASS to reconvene.
It is to avoid this needless cul de sac that I have consistently warned the Executive to refrain from using raw brinkmanship and “strongmanliness”, rather than diplomatic rapprochement in engaging the legislture and the judiciary. They are also equal partners and stakeholders in the tripartite government. The leadership of the NASS must however be put on notice in any court matter, to defend itself. Beyond these two options, the president does not have any powers, whether substantive, or inherent, legal or constitutional, to reconvene a Senate already on recess.
Section 60 of the Constitution provides that “the Senate or the House of Representatives shall have power to regulate its own procedure”. It is under this section that both Houses have made their own parliamentary rules and procedures. Any errant member of the Houses who does anything untoward may be disciplined in accordance with sections 20, 21 and 22 of the Legislative Houses (Powers And Privileges) Act, LFN, 2004. So, any member who illegally usurps the powers of the leadership of bicameral legislature to convene an illegal meeting of the Senate has run foul of the rules and is subject to discipline, using internal deodorizing mechanism.
Must Dr Bukola Saraki resign as senate president because he defected from APC to PDP? In law, there is no legal or constitutional basis for Dr Bukola Saraki to resign or be removed as president of the Senate and Chairman of the NASS simply because he has decamped or defected from APC to PDP.
READ ALSO: Why I decamp from APC to PDP – Bukola Saraki
The first point to make here is that section 68 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides inter alia, that any member of the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives who loses his Nigerian citizenship, or is made a minister, or decamps from his political party to another party AUTOMATICALLY loses his seat. However, section 68(1)(g) of the same 1999 Constitution permits a legislator to decamp or cross carpet from his original party under whose platform he contested and won election, to a new party if he can show that there has occurred a division or factionalization of his original party, or that his party has merged with another party, or a faction of another party.
To be concluded next week.
The shrieks of our founding fathers on this unworking nigerian project: The satires of the sacked dss boss, duara (Part 2)
James Madison, once rightly stated that the essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. On this piece, I shall today conclude on the above issue, which I started last week.
The spine-chilling live videos mercilessly assailed us in our various homes. As is to be expected, the APC has disingenuously denied it. But no one believes it; not even its slavish, fawning, bootlicking, and die-hard supporters, cheerleaders and chorus masters. The president is alleged to have cleverly travelled abroad to the UK, on a “working visit”, to provide a ready-made alibi of not being party to the ugly and odious developments back home. As our hard fought democracy totters towards total annihilation by this desperate government’s dastardly and unspeakable acts of impunity, totalitarianism, absolutism and fascism, Nigerians and the international community should brace up for tougher times ahead, in the fight for the control of the heart and soul of this beleaguered nation. I see Mr Lawal Daura, the now sacked DG, DSS, as a mere unfortunate fall guy, who has been made the victim and guinea pig of our blood-spattered political chessboard.
I say this because, there is no way that Daura, not being the president and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic, even with the intoxicating and inebriating effect of power liquor, can unilaterally, whimsically, capriciously and arbitrarily lay siege on the NASS without presidential directive, or at least approval, whether tacit or overt, of the “ogas at the top”.
This is a very sad day for democracy in Nigeria, I am convinced that past heroes, heroines and founding fathers and mothers of this unworking Nigerian project must by now, be weeping in their graves. But, make no mistake about it: it is simply not enough for this pretentious and janus-faced government to simply sack Daura, an action that was forced on it anyway, by the spontaneous national uproar and unanimous outcry and condemnation of this barbaric and unconscionable act of attempted treason.
The full weight of the law must be visited on Daura and all those usurpers who believe that Nigeria is nothing but their footstool of hegemonic self-aggrandizement and ego satiation. Sections 37 to 43 of the Criminal Code and sections 410 and 415 of the Penal Code, which operate in the southern and northern parts of Nigeria respectively, deal with the offences of treason and treasonable felonies.
While treason is punishable by death, treasonable felony is punishable by life imprisonment. All those who participated in the national shame that has caused Nigeria monumental international odium, opprobrium and derision, must surely fall into one of these limbs.
It is treasonable felony punishable with life imprisonment for anyone to device, by overt acts, to depose or levy war against the sovereign, or to compel changes of policy, or to intimidate or overawe Parliament (NASS). The sections provide, inter alia, that, anyone who levies war against the state in order to intimidate or overawe the president or governor of a state, or who conspires with others, either within Nigeria or outside Nigeria, to levy war against Nigeria, or instigate a foreigner to invade Nigeria with an armed force, is guilty of treason and is punished by death.
It is a treasonable felony punishable with life imprisonment, for anyone to become an accessory after the fact to treason, or fails to report to appropriate authorities of his knowledge of people attempting to commit treason, or forms an intention to commit the offence of treason, or prepares, advises aides, or participates in any act of war against a traditional chief or a band of citizens.
Let the law now take its full course. It is no respecter of any person. Enough is enough. Nigeria cannot descend lower than this lowly abyss, this unenviable nadir. Let the president exonerate himself, for once, by speaking up loud and clear in condemnation of these subversive and criminal acts against Nigeria’s sovereignty. He should not hide behind the facade of the now well-known usual condescending ostrich-like pretentious taciturnity and indifference. No. It is not acceptable to the overwhelming shocked and angry Nigerians. The End.
Thought for the week
“An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.” – Confucius