By Lois Ugbede
Some Southern and Middle Belt leaders have decried recent happenings in Nigeria, expressing fears that the country’s democracy is under threat.
According to a report by Vanguard, the leaders met in Abuja on Tuesday.
The leaders condemned the payment of $496 million to the United States government for the purchase of Tucano aircraft by President Muhammadu Buhari without the National Assembly’s approval and also flayed the possibility of INEC creating new polling units less than a year to elections.
The leaders also condemned the recent invasion of the Senate chamber by some hoodlums who made away with the mace, describing it as a “national disgrace.”
They urged security agencies to investigate and bring to book those behind the invasion.
“We also call on the Police Service Commission to immediately deploy Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to their places of origin for a more effective policing, while we await State Police.”
The group described the action of Mr Buhari on release of unapproved funds as a violation of the constitution, “because the constitution is clear on how executive can spend funds”.
The president, following numerous attacks on the approval, explained that he gave anticipatory approval for withdrawal of $462 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) because he believed the National Assembly would have no objection.
In a communiqué read by John Nwodo at the end of the meeting which lasted for hours, he said: “Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution is very clear on how the President could spend Nigerian funds. The provision states ‘No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly. As it is, the President has violated the provision of the highest law in the land.
“Nigeria is a republic founded on rule of law, where each arm of government is bound to be guided by the dictates of the Constitution, this flagrant violation and unapproved spending must be abated as well as sanctioned.
“We therefore call on the National Assembly to do the needful as well as call on the United States Government to return the money paid to its treasury as the money paid is not authorised.”
The group also urged INEC to drop the idea of creating new polling units ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The group addressed the bloodletting going on in parts of the nation.
“In the circumstance, we are left with no alternative than to call on Nigerians to employ self-defence, self-defence as permissible in law when any citizen is faced with the risk of imminent death in the circumstances we find ourselves now.”
The leaders of regional groups at the meeting were: Edwin Clark; Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere Leader; Mr Nwodo, President General, Ohanaeze; and Bala Takaya, President of the Middle Belt Forum.
Also at the meeting were Olu Falae, Olusegun Mimiko, Dan Suleiman, Chris Anyanwu, Jonah Jang, Obadiah Mailafia, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Tony Nyiam, Femi Okunrunmu, Kayode Ajulo, Supo Shonibare, Yinka Odumakin, among others.