It is doubtful, going by the opposition of governors, senators and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to the President Buhari invitation by the House of Representatives.
A Presidency sources has disclosed on Wednesday night that Buhari would abide with his party’s – the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s – advice on the matter.
According to the source, the President is also relying on experts’ advice on constitutional matters by the AGF.
“The President’s position is that the party is handling the issue, the leadership of the party is therefore in the best position to tell you where things stand as at the moment,” the source said.
Besides the argument by the party leaders, APC governors and the AGF said such invitation negates the constitution, they said it would be a breach for the President to divulge security strategies.
Citing alleged intelligence confidentiality, some of the governors were also said to be wary that the opposition may use the session to boo and jeer at the President.
They warned against setting bad precedent at the state level where Houses of Assembly will summon them governors at will.
It was gathered that the plot to stop the President from appearing before the lawmakers was hatched at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the APC on Tuesday in Abuja.
A source said some governors and APC leaders accused House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila of not doing enough to halt a motion demanding that the President should address the chamber on the security challenges.
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Gbajabiamila, who claimed that he tried his best to control the situation, said it was the same story when the House retired into an Executive Session.
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He urged the aggrieved governors and APC leaders to review the video clip to see how he managed the situation during the session, which he noted, was televised live.
The Speaker also claimed that he and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, in company of the House Leader, later had audience with the President.
He said the President thereafter accepted to address a joint session of the National Assembly.
But, the governors and APC leaders urged the President not to honour the National Assembly because such a session may go beyond the control of Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Gbajabiamila.
They also sought for, what a source described as a “pre-determined legal advice” from the AGF.
The source said: “As a matter of fact, the President’s proposed appearance before the National Assembly was an issue at the NEC meeting of the APC. Any statement from the AGF and Minister of Justice was a follow up to the reservations by some APC governors and leaders of APC.
“At the NEC meeting, Gbajabiamila was put on the spot by some NEC members, who challenged him for allowing the motion to summon the President to succeed. They accused the House of playing to the gallery for cheap publicity.
“The Speaker said he could not have frustrated the motion from House members from the North, following the national outrage over the killing of farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram. He said the session was televised live and he did his best to moderate the debate.
“He also said when the House retired into an Executive session on the massacre in Borno, members still called for the invitation of the President to let Nigerians know that he is addressing the security challenges in the country.
“Gbajabiamila also explained that he, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, and the House Leader, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno, met with the President where the motives behind such a session were clarified. He said it was on this basis that the President amended the invitation to a joint session of the National Assembly.
“Based on the conviction of the President to brief the National Assembly, he caused a statement to be issued by one of his spokespersons.”
The source added: “Some of these governors and APC leaders, especially those in the good book of the Presidency, opposed the President’s appearance because it will set a bad precedent and it could be hijacked by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose lawmakers in the House had called for the impeachment of the President. They alleged that the PDP lawmakers may in turn boo and jeer at the President.
“Some also claimed that the situation may repeat itself at the state level with the Houses of Assembly summoning governors at will.
“Some NEC members questioned the constitutionality of summoning the President on the security of the country, which is ‘classified’ and laced with a lot of intelligence. They said the President enjoyed some prerogative on security and intelligence matters.
“It was on the basis of the legal argument that the AGF and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday said the National Assembly cannot summon the President.”
Malami, in a statement which he personally signed, said the National Assembly stepped out of constitutional bounds by inviting the President.
He said 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.
The minister said the nation’s security architecture cannot be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.
Malami said the confidentiality of strategies employed by the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not open for public exposure.
The statement reads: “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.
“The confidentiality of strategies employed by the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not open for public exposure, in view of security implications in probable undermining of the war against terror.
“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 expose.
“While condoling the bereaved and sympathising with the victims of the associated insecurity in the country, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN maintained that national security is not about publicity and the nation’s security architecture cannot be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.
“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.
“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 including the power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces. An invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the Armed Forces to a public interrogation is indeed taking the constitutional rights of law making beyond bounds.
”As the Commander-in-Chief, the President has exclusivity on security and has confidentiality over security.
“These powers and rights he does not share. So, by summoning the President on National Security operational Matters, the House of Representative operated outside constitutional bounds. President’s exclusivity of constitutional confidentiality investiture within the context of the constitution remains sacrosanct.”
As at press time, a principal officer of the National Assembly said: “We have not received any official communication that the President will not address us on Thursday.
“But, since the AGF and Minister of Justice has spoken, it is assumed he will not honour our invitation. We meant well; we wanted to give him the opportunity to tell Nigerians what he has done in protecting them. We didn’t design a question and answer session in any manner whatsoever.”
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