Some senators have expressed the view that the Senate might seek judicial interpretation on Section 171 of the Nigerian Constitution, which empowers the president to appoint. The senators are worried over the retention of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, by President Muhammadu Buhari despite the refusal of the Senate to confirm his nomination.
Senator Adesoji Akanbi, representing Oyo South, said the lawmakers will consider all options including approaching the Supreme Court when it resumes from recess.
“When we resume from break, we will consider all options. It is the beauty of democracy. We need to make consultations and, if need be, approach the Supreme Court for interpretation.”
“It is now the issue of interpretation of the Constitution. If you followed what the Vice-President said, it was the decision of the executive. I believe that the Senate should sit down and make wide consultations on the interpretation of (the relevant parts of) the Constitution”, he said.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Chukwuka Utazi, faulted the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo and Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, for quoting Section 171 of the Constitution. He said the duo was empowering President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek the Senate’s approval on Magu’s appointment.
“When the Senate sits (resumes from recess), we will reply the Vice-President on points of law. As a lawyer, one may say something and not say the whole truth but stop halfway to confuse the people”, he said.
Utazi stated that those who felt that what the Senate did on Magu was wrong should also take note of Order 131 of the Senate, “which says that once you come (are nominated) twice without success, you cannot come back (re-nominated).”
He added, “Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowers the Senate and the House of Representatives to make rules to guide their activities. That Section 60 is not inferior to Section 171 by any standard. The rule of the House is subsidiary legislation deriving its powers from the grand norm, which is the 1999 Constitution.
- Bola Kougbe