The National Assembly yesterday discussed commencing impeachment proceedings against President Muhammadu Buhari.
This followed a joint session of both arms of the legislature, held behind closed doors and presided over by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The development marks a worrying deterioration in relations between the legislative and the executive arms of government.
The lawmakers, who passed a vote of confidence in Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, maintained that if Buhari fails to meet their demands, they would invoke powers conferred on them by the 1999 constitution as amended.
Saraki read the resolutions taken after the over three-hour emergency parley, stressing that the president would only be spared if he puts in place measures to safeguard the life and property of citizens, and the country’s democracy.
The ultimatum required the president to give marching orders to security agencies to curtail the killings of innocent Nigerians. It called for an end to harassment and humiliation of perceived political opponents by the police.
It said the executive must ensure strict adherence to the rule of law, while the president must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees.
The government must show sincerity in its fight against corruption, protect the sanctity of the National Assembly, and prosecute the persons who recently invaded the legislative premises and made away with the Senate’s mace.
The lawmakers decided the National Assembly would liaise with the ECOWAS parliament, the E.U., U.N. and civil society organisations to save the country’s democracy.
They listed the need for Buhari to stem the growing state of unemployment in the country, and passed a vote of no confidence in Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who has linked Saraki to the April robbery on four banks in Offa, Kwara State.
A House member, Mohammed Gadaji (Jigawa, APC) told reporters that top on the agenda at the meeting was the perfection of impeachment moves against the president.
He, however, noted that while he supported all other resolutions, he would mobilise his colleagues to abort any planned impeachment ‘spearheaded by PDP members in the lower legislative chamber.’
His position resonated with lawmakers under the aegis of Parliamentary Support Group (PSG).
According to a statement issued on behalf of the group by former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin, every legislator facing a corruption or criminal allegation should defend him/herself without dragging the entire Assembly into the matter.
The group warned against making of reckless statements that could overheat the polity by worsening the rift between both arms of government.
It commended Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, efforts to combat insecurity, and praised his respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions.
The group noted that almost all the lawmakers that spoke at the session were of the PDP, as APC members declined joining the discussion, to prevent confrontation.
It also commended Dogara for tactfully refusing to make any comment at the session, even “after the Senate President took time to explain the issues which are mostly personal.”
But the PDP praised the resolutions, describing them as vindicating its stance on the Buhari administration.
It also commended the members of the National Assembly for their patriotism and courage in standing up for democracy, the rule of law, national stability and cohesion at a trying period.
The party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Nigerians would recall that the PDP had consistently pointed to the misrule of the Buhari presidency, as well as the unrelenting violations of our constitution, unprecedented executive high-handedness, abuse of the rights of citizens, and the erosion of all known democratic norms under this administration.
“It has become evident that Mr. President must be called to order through an appropriate legislative instrument.
The PDP, therefore, calls on all democrats, across board, irrespective of party affiliations, to come together, support the National Assembly, and save our democracy from the misrule of the Buhari presidency.”