Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has thrown his weight behind the position of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami that the National Assembly lacks the constitutional powers to summon President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking in a chat with Newsmen Sagay said the President is higher than every other person in the country whom the National Assembly cannot equate to Ministers and head of agencies that they can summon.
Sagay who said summoning Buhari amounts to denigrating the sovereignty of Nigeria also reminded the lawmakers that the British Parliament cannot summon the Queen to respond to any issue.
He said “Well, my view is that I totally support the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. One, the President is not just executive Head of Government; he is also the Head of State. He represents the sovereignty of Nigeria, so he is not somebody you can give orders and say ‘come and address us, whether you like it or not!’. They don’t have the powers to do that. The provisions of the Constitution state clearly when he has to go to the National Assembly, and that is when he is presenting a budget”
“They can afford to call Ministers, Comptroller General of Customs, Inspector-General of Police, Permanent-Secretaries to the National Assembly. These are people who are implementing various projects for which the National Assembly has voted money. But the President is the Head of State, higher than every other person in the country and a symbol of our statehood. They don’t have the powers to summon him”.
He also added that he supported the decision of the President to shun the invitation because the opposition Peoples Democratic Lawmakers were waiting to boo and humiliate him.
“Secondly, we all know that those PDP lawmakers are looking for every opportunity to boo and humiliate the President. They did it when he went to present the budget when Saraki was Senate President. They booed, shouted at him and embarrass him but he showed so much personal composure, presented the budget and left with dignity”.
“Now they are frustrated and are looking for ways to humiliate the President again. So, from purely practical commonsense and from pure constitutional law, there is no reason why the President should go there”.
“So, I agree with Malami on this even though I don’t agree with the reasons he gave. There is no constitutional provision that empowers the lawmakers to do that. The British parliament cannot summon the Queen to come and address them on any issue. So, let them just forget about it”.
“The best thing they can do is to organise themselves and allow the leadership of both chambers to go to Aso Villa to see the President and then he can tell them what he has to say on security. They will then come back and tell their colleagues what he said”.
“If what he said is a security issue, they can go into an executive session where no journalist is present and discuss it. By summoning him, they are trying to denigrate the sovereignty of this country and they don’t have the powers to do so” he said.