Femi Falana, SAN, a Human rights lawyer, on Thursday, May 10, 2018, faulted the Senate for ordering the President to appear before it, saying it has no power to summon him as well as state governors.
He made this known when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, on Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Quoting Sections of the Constitution, he explained that “the President or the governor of a state cannot be summoned by the National Assembly, NASS.
“There is no such power given to NASS by the Constitution to summon everybody,” he stated.
“It has given the president the discretion to address the National Assembly either jointly or separately on any matter of national importance.”
The senior lawyer also said: “the Senate didn’t get it right this time around. By virtue of Section 67 of the Constitution, the National Assembly or either chamber can summon a Minister when the affairs of his or her ministries are under consideration.
“The only other occasion where a public officer can be summoned by the National Assembly is when proceedings are ongoing to expose corruption (Section 88) and when a law is being debated either with a view to amending it or to have a new law entirely.”
Speaking further, Mr. Falana stated that the lawmakers can, however, fix areas of the Constitution perceived as weak, rather than going beyond its limits as such actions can subject the institution to ridicule.
“What can be done, a constitutional review is ongoing, you can deal with the identified gaps but don’t go outside the limit of your powers. When you do that, you ridicule the institution and that is what is going on.”
The Senate had on April 26, 2018, resolved to summon President Buhari over the killings in states across the country, with Benue being the worst hit so far.
Samuel Ortom, the state governor, was also summoned on May 2, 2018, to brief the lawmakers about the security situation in the state.
Only recently, two priests and 17 other worshippers were killed in Gwer East Local Government Area of the state while 16 others were killed in separate attacks on Ali Agundu and Tsav council wards of Guma LGA.
Shortly after, the National Economic Council weighed in on the killings and called for a ban on the movement of herdsmen in the five states affected the most – Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna, and Zamfara.