Abubakar Malami, in a statement Wednesday, said that the National Assembly “stepped out of constitutional bounds by inviting the President.”
Nigerians have lashed out at Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, who, on Wednesday, said the National Assembly had no powers to summon the president over insecurity matters, thereby diffusing the initial hope that the president would appear before the legislators today.
Earlier in the week, the office of the president confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the president was poised to address lawmakers on Thursday, in response to a motion passed by the House of Representatives seeking the president’s appearance.
However, in a twist of events, the governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress prevailed on President Buhari to ditch his proposed visit, fearing that his visit might embolden the assemblies in their respective states to “harass” them over the frail security situation in the country.
With the opposition camp in the House of Representatives threatening to launch an impeachment proceeding against the president, APC governors dug into their heels by maintaining that non-appearance was the only way to save the president from being embarrassed.
In defence of Mr Buhari’s last minute volte-face, attorney-general and justice minister Abubakar Malami, in a statement Wednesday, said that the National Assembly “stepped out of constitutional bounds by inviting the President.”
According to Vanguard, Mr Malami said that the management and control of the security sector is exclusively vested in the President by Section 218 (1) of the Constitution as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
He further argued that the strategies deployed by the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces were not open for publicity.
“President Muhamamdu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recorded tremendous success in containing the hitherto incessant bombing, colossal killings, wanton destruction of lives and property that bedeviled the country before attaining the helm of affairs of the country in 2015,” Vanguard quoted Mr Malami as saying.
“The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was instrumental to the reclaiming of over 14 local governments previously controlled by the Boko Haram in Northeast is an open secret; the strategies for such achievement are not open for public exposure.
“He said Mr President has enjoyed Constitutional privileges attached to the Office of the President including exclusivity and confidentiality investiture in security operational matters, which remains sacrosanct.
“Malami added that the National Assembly has no Constitutional Power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the President would be summoned by the National Assembly on operational use of the Armed Forces.
“The right of the President to engage the National Assembly and appear before it is inherently discretionary in the President and not at the behest of the National Assembly.”
Some Nigerians have, nonetheless, called out Mr Malami and the National Assembly – the former for his interpretation of the Constitution, and the latter for seeming indifference to uphold its constitutional powers.
Commentators on microblogging site, Twitter, accused Mr Malami of being loyal to the president and not the Nigerian people. They also hurled jibes at the National Assembly, describing it as a rubber stamp.
Meanwhile human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, argued that while the National Assembly has powers to summon the president, his appearance is discretionary. He added that the legislature, nonetheless, has powers to impeach the president if it so wishes.
On his part, another lawyer, Savn Daniel, noted that although the president may choose to ignore a summon from the National Assembly, but not in a dire situation like rising insecurity.
Read some other tweets by Nigerians below: