The Senate has begun moves to probe President Muhammadu Buhari for paying a whopping sum of $496million to the United States Government for the purchase of 12 Tucano aircraft without approval by the National Assembly. The Senate described the action as a total breach of the Constitution, especially Section 80 where the procedure for that was not followed by the Executive arm of government, just as some senators described the action of the President as an impeachable offence.
The Senate has, therefore, mandated the Senator David Umaru, APC, Niger East-led Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate the matter and report back at plenary next Wednesday.
However, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, saved President Muhammadu Buhari from impeachment moves for paying a whopping sum of $496 million to the US Government for the purchase of Tucano aircraft without approval by the National Assembly, as he toned down frayed nerves and referred the matter to the Senate Committee. Saraki, who came to the rescue of the President, agreed that the arguments raised on the matter were valid, but most follow due process.
Actions of the Senate followed a motion by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South, who said that the action of President Buhari was a complete violation of the law, and asked that Section 143 should be invoked.
The motion was supported by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North, who said, “It is an impeachable offence, things must be done in their right perspectives.” Urhoghide’s motion came shortly after the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah presented the Executive Communication on Inclusion of $496, 374, 470 (equivalent of N151, 394, 494, 335.00) in the year 2018 Appropriation Bill.
The letter urged the Senate to consider the request of Mr. President C-n-C on the inclusion of $496, 374, 470 (equivalent of N151, 394, 494, 335.00) only in the year 2018 Appropriation Bill for the purchase of Super Tucano aircraft from the US Government.
According to Urhighide, Section 143 reads, “1) The President or Vice-President may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.
“(2) Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly:- (a) is presented to the President of the Senate; “b) stating that the holder of the office of President or Vice-President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified, the President of the Senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the National Assembly.
“(3) Within 14 days of the presentation of the notice to the President of the Senate (whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice), each House of the National Assembly shall resolve by motion without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated.
“(4) A motion of the National Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed, unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly.
“(5) Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions, the Chief Justice of Nigeria shall at the request of the President of the Senate appoint a panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegation as provide in this section.
“(6) The holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person and be represented before the panel by legal practitioners of his own choice.