Senators are allegedly gathering signatures to enable them launch impeachment proceedings against President Muhammadu Buhari.
TheCable, which first reported the story, claimed sources told it that Buhari’s spending of $496 million not appropriated for by the National Assembly was the underlying motive for the alleged impeachment move.
“As I speak to you, signatures for the impeachment of Mr President are being collected in both chambers of the national assembly. The lawmakers are very angry and are ready to nail this act once and for all”, the report quoted a source as saying.
The source reportedly added it was not the first time Buhari would spend money not approved for, saying “he (Buhari) had since September 2017 to consult with the leadership of the national assembly leadership over this issue but did not do so.”
The Senate during its plenary on Thursday referred the matter to its Committee on Legal Matters and Judiciary to investigate and report back to it next week. Part of the resolutions reached at plenary was for the committee to determine what led to the constitutional breach and whether there was any justification for it.
The Senate’s anger over the unbudgeted spending is impaled in the widespread disenchantment over the Buhari’s government’s inability to stop the killings taking place in different parts of the country.
This, the Senate resolved to invite the President to address a National Assembly joint sitting on the insecurity situation.
However, in his letter to the Senate, President Buhari said he granted “an anticipatory approval” for the purchase of 12 Tuscano fighter jets to meet the deadline the United States gave for the deal. He further urged the lawmakers to include the spending in the 2018 Appropriation Bill pending before the National Assembly, while the balance for the purchase would be covered in a supplementary appropriation he would be forwarding for approval later.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide, a PDP senator from Edo state, and Chukwuka Utazi, a PDP lawmaker Enugu state, pushed for President Buhari’s ouster. The suggestion was flatly rejected by some APC lawmakers, one of whom said former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan had acted likewise while in office. Senator Abu Ibrahim, an APC member, described the Urhoghide and Utazi’s suggestion as a ‘PDP conspiracy’ and a plan to "tarnish" Buhari's image.
More so, the mood in the Senate seemed to sync with the House of Representatives’, which equally referred the issue of unbudgeted spending to its Committee on Legal Matters and Judiciary. The House of Reps had debated the issue prior to the Senate’s sitting and resolved to invite President Buhari over.
During the House's debate, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, citing sections 80 and 81 of 1999 constitution, said the Nigerian law does not recognise anticipatory approval. Hence, Chinda said, “I propose that we commence the impeachment of Mr President.”