$496m Spending: Senate Overrules Call For Buhari’s Impeachment

The Senate, on Thursday, resolved that its Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters rather investigate the “circumstances” that led to President Muhammadu Buhari’s spending of $496million without due appropriation.

The resolution preceded various contributions by senators on the issue, including Senator Mathew Uroghide’s impeachment call. Uroghide, of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, stated that President Buhari breached Section 80 of the Constitution which made National Assembly’s appropriation for government’s spending mandatory.

Contributing, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, the Deputy Senate Leader suggested that the matter be forwarded to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee to investigate.

Following Na’Allah’s submission, President of Senate Bukola Saraki reminded his colleagues of how the decision to procure the helicopters was reached. Saraki recalled some U.S Congressmen had last September visited the Nigerian federal lawmakers to discuss President Donald Trump’s disposition to sell the fighter jets to Nigeria. He further said congressmen were encouraged to grant President Trump the requisite approval for the sale.

Saraki said that ”Between September and February with all due respect, there was ample time for the Executive to have carried us along on this issue. There are arguments for and against and those arguments are valid.”

Saraki got the buy-in of other senators on Na’Allah’s suggestion to send the matter to the Senate’s Judiciary Committee to  “advise whether truly the constitution has been breached and “whether the circumstances justify the breach in any way.”

President Buhari had splurged the whooping sum of money on procuring 12 fighter helicopters from the United States, which are due to be delivered in 2020.

The President, in a letter to both chambers of the National Assembly, explained he gave “anticipatory approval” for the purchase of the fighter jets pending when the request would formally be brought before the senate.

He said: “Recently, approval was granted by the United States government but with a deadline, within which part payment must be made otherwise the contract relapses. In the expectation that the National Assembly will have no objection to the purchase of these highly specialised aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of $496,374,470. This was paid directly into the treasury of the United States government.

“I am therefore writing seeking approval of the Senate for the sum of $496,374,470 (equivalent to N151,394, 421,035) to be included in the 2018 Appropriation Bill which the National Assembly is currently finalising.”

Folarin Ademosu

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