Anti-graft: Row in NASS over Executive Order

-Senate alleges rights abuse of Dasuki, El-Zakzaky

By Taiye Odewale and Joshua Egbodo, Abuja The continued detention of former National Security Adviser, Col.
Dasuki Sambo, and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria otherwise known as Shi’ites, Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, yesterday divided the Senate as the body commenced debate into alleged human rights violations and assaults on provisions of the 1999 Constitution by the Muhammadu Buhari-led executive.
Similarly, the recently signed Executive Order 006 by the president also generated some heat in both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly.
While Dasuki is currently standing trial in a 19-count charge bordering on alleged diversion of N13.6 billion security fund, El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, are being charged for culpable homicide “punishable with death”, and unlawful assembly and disturbing of public peace.
At different times, various courts had granted bail to the three accused persons, even as they remain under custody.
While Dasuki’s trial had commenced since his incarceration, that of the Islamic cleric and his wife did not begin until about two years after their arrest.
At the resumed trial of the Islamic cleric and his wife at a Kaduna High Court yesterday, the trial judge adjourned the matter to August 2.
Senate’s worry But concerned by the alleged rights violation, the Senate brought the issue to the plenary through a motion from its Committee Chairman on Judiciary, Senator David Umoru (APC Niger East).
While most of the APC lawmakers kicked against the debate, virtually all their PDP counterparts supported the motion and overwhelmingly voted for the five prayers sought.
One of the prayers adopted as resolution by the Senate, was the summoning of the Attorney – General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to appear before it in plenary for explanations on alleged human rights violations in the country.
Umoru, had in the motion titled, “Alarming rise in cases of alleged human rights violations and consistent assault on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by the Executive,” submitted that Nigeria was fast slipping into anarchy and despotism.
He premised his position on “indiscriminate arrests, unconstitutional detention of citizens under questionable circumstances as was the fate of the Senator representing Abia South, Enyinnaya Abaribe who was whisked away by a detachment of DSS personnel while attending a function at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and later kept incommunicado at 055 detention facility for 5 days.” The lawmaker further cited the alleged human rights abuses to include; continuous detention of former NSA Dasuki, IMN leader and ElZakzaky among others, despite bails granted them by courts of competent jurisdiction.
Hit Buhari on Executive Order Further to this, the motion viewed the recent enactment of the controversial Executive Order No.
006 as an Executive legislation which permits security agencies to freeze the assets of persons standing trial without recourse to court order, as part of assaults to provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
According to him, several other Executive Orders have also effectively usurped legislative and judicial powers of the National Assembly and the judiciary as enshrined respectively under Sections 4 and 6 of the Constitution just.
Umoru also alluded to the release of $496 million United States dollars from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) by the executive, for the purchase of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States Government without prior approval by the National Assembly, as a clear case of direct contravention of section 80 of the 1999 Constitution.
He therefore prayed the Senate to urgently draw the attention of the federal government and its relevant authorities to the issues raised, with a view to preventing the country’ s gradual descent into a chaotic state where violence and might would rule, and where fundamental rights are observed more in breach than in compliance.
The debate But the APC senators, led by Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, kicked against the motion on the grounds that most of the instances cited by the sponsor, were matters already in court.
Na’ Allah, who came by a point of order to raise his objection, was however ruled out of order by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the session.
But Senators Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central), Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North ), Yahaya Abdullahi ( APC Kebbi North) and some others in their separate contributions, vehemently kicked against the motion which they alleged , was targeted to tarnish the image of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government .
Specifically, Senator Yahaya in his submission, described the motion sponsored by an APC senator, as first salvo by the opposition against the APC-led government ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“I dissociate myself completely from the content and spirit of this motion, which to me and other APC senators here, is calculated attempt to rubbish our government,” he said.
But another APC Senator, Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central), supported the motion , saying “issues raised in it were very clear.” According to him, “though, President Buhari is known for his anti-corruption war, but the image of the country is being stained by clear cases of breaches of human rights and violation of provisions of the constitution, one of which is the Executive Order which must comply with the laws of the land ” In another contribution, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South), said no lover of democracy , justice and rule of law, will kick against the content and spirit of the motion, stressing that the Senate, being assemblage of democrats, should do justice to it by adopting all the prayers sought as resolutions.
Resolutions Consequently, the Senate in its resolutions, urged the federal government to urgently empanel a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate all cases of human rights abuse committed by the Police, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies in the course of discharging their duties, with a view to identifying the culprits and victims, and offering redress where necessary.
The lawmakers also called on the federal government to demonstrate practical commitment to the observance of the rule of law, especially in ensuring obedience to court orders and following due process in fulfillment of its constitutional obligation.
They similarly urged the federal government to take necessary measures, and/or establish necessary structures to ensure that all constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens are protected and observed by its security and law enforcement agencies in the discharge of their responsibilities.
They also cautioned government against further violation of the sacred principle of separation of powers and adopt the rule of law as the guiding principle of government actions.
Reps urge Buhari to stay action In a related development, the House of Representatives has urged President Buhari to suspend and discontinue the implementation of the Executive Order 006 of 2018, he signed on July 5.
Like their counterparts in the Chamber, the lawmakers also summoned the AGF and the Chairman, Nigeria Law Reform Commission, to within two weeks, provide a comprehensive list of all subsidiary legislations published in the Federal Gazette of Nigeria.
This, however, did not come without a sharp division among members when debate was held on the propriety and legality of the order, which Hon.
Nicholas Osai and 24 other members who jointly sponsored a motion in that regard, described as an attempt at usurping the powers of the legislative and judicial arm of the federal government.
Osai, who led debate on the motion, argued that the order empowers the executive arm to restrict dealings in suspicious assets subjected to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption.
He however contended that going by Section 44 (2k) of the 1999 Constitution, “the application of run gangs of mass murderers are using unconventional tactics, they would eventually be defeated.
“This administration will not allow any group of barbarians and criminals hold the country hostage and destroy life without consequences.
I wish to assure all Nigerians that their security is receiving the greatest attention from this administration and there is no compromise in this commitment.
I appeal for your patience while my security teams crack their brains to put an end to this horrendous violence.” The President extended his condolences to the government, families of the victims and the people of Sokoto state at large over what he called “this incredible loss of lives at the hands of these enemies of humanity.” He assured that the federal government would give all possible assistance to the state in dealing with the tragic incident.
Police nab suspected kidnappers Meanwhile, the state police command has arrested and paraded 3 kidnappers at Marnona village of Wurno local government terrorising people of Rara, Rabah and Achida towns.
Parading the suspects, the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Cordilia Nwaye, who gave their names as Bello Mohammed, Amadu Buba and Sambo Aliyu, said the suspects were arrested on 9- 7- 2018, on a tip-off at Marnona village.
He further disclosed that they would be charged to court after investigation, assuring members of the public of the command’s readiness to nip crimes in the bud.
The police image maker called for cooperation and support from members of public, by passing relevant information to the nearest police station for prompt action.
compulsory acquisition of movable or immovable property in any part of Nigeria, except on the temporary taking of possession of property for the purpose of any examination, investigation or inquiry,” is restricted.
Also in his submissions, Hon.
Dan Asuquo said an order which may deny Nigerians the right to fair hearing, negates the tenets of democratic governance.
Holding similar view, Chairman, House Committee on the Army, Hon.
Rims Shawulu, cautioned that nothing should be “done to offend the rights of people to own property,” as such will send a wrong signal to the global community.
He posited that several international rating indices have portrayed Nigeria negatively, owing mainly to the procedures adopted in the fight against corruption.
In his submission, Hon Linus Okorie, faulted the argument that the order will strengthen the anticorruption war, alleging that the EO was only seeking to take over cases already in court.
“The cases are in court, some full forfeitures have been secured, others have been reversed, others are still running.
But what this means (the order) now is taking them away from the judges,” he claimed.
Others kick However, several others, including Hon.
Mojeed Alabi (APC, Osun) kicked.
According to Alabi, there are precedents that the President has powers to issues such orders, arguing that the question of legality of Executive Order 006 was needless.
The lawmaker described the motion as “hasty and premature,” advising that the only option available to the House was to approach the Supreme Court for proper interpretation.
There was however a temporary disruption of plenary, when Speaker Yakubu Dogara, after subjecting the issue to voice votes, ruled that the ‘ayes’ were in the majority.
This angered some lawmakers opposed to the motion, as they attempted to stage a walk-out.

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