How do you see the face-off between the executive and the legislature?
Occasionally in a democracy, there is disagreement between the executive and the legislature. But what is happening at the moment is going beyond the normal. I see the legislature as a body that wants to arm-twist the executive to submission by refusing to perform its constitutional duties.
The National Assembly has said it wouldn’t perform its constitutional duties because of Magu whose appointment they have rejected on two occasions; they want him removed. It is not the business of the assembly to appoint the head of the EFCC but they are to confirm it. If you refuse to confirm, what it means is that person will not be a substantive head. That is enough punishment for that person.
As if it was not enough to ask the president to remove Magu, they refused to screen the list of the REC members sent to them because the president refused to do away with Magu. Two issues arise: One it is a duty imposed on them to screen anybody sent to them by the president. They cannot refuse to screen because they are refusing to perform their constitutional duties. Two, what has Magu got to do with the REC? The senators should behave maturely. I expect them to rise above parochialism and pettiness in the performance of their constitutional duties; they should behave like actually distinguished senators.
How would you react to the suspension of Ali Ndume over allegations against Senate President Bukola Saraki and Senator Dino Melaye?
It is ridiculous for the Senate to go ahead and suspend Ndume on account of his bringing to their knowledge what the papers had reported. He is not the author of the allegations; he read them out from the papers. What he did was, ‘the stories are awash in the public, let them be investigated so that they clear them and members of the public will be at peace that what the papers had written are not true.’ So you cannot say he read false accusations against Saraki and Melaye.
So they went ahead within 48 hours to set up a kangaroo committee, selected hatchet men and Melaye appeared in academic gown- we know anybody can wear academic gown. They cleared them without giving Ndume a fair hearing, they suspended him. And he even apologised. So by saying they found him guilty of speculation, what do you now tell the journalist who published the story?
In the Senate I suppose there are lawyers because there is an Appeal Court decision that the Senate and House of Reps have no powers to suspend their member.
In the event of prolonged judicial process, what would be the implication of the suspension on the constituents?
Normally such matters are given expeditious hearing. I have handled one in Kwara State where Ibrahim Iliyasu was suspended. I know that case ended within four months when the judge came up with a judgment and quashed his suspension. They went to Court of Appeal and it decided same. Before they went on appeal, we wrote to them to restore him but they refused and their lawyer wrote that we maintain the status quo of him remaining suspended.
It will be good if these issues are tested in the Supreme Court so that the court will decide once and for all whether a legislative chambers can just wake up and suspend its member thereby denying those who elected him the benefits of his services.
Does the Senate have the power to summon Prof Itse Sagay over his comments on the actions of the Senate?
They don’t have the powers to summon him because under the constitution they are empowered to summon the ministers in respect of their ministries pursuant to their oversight duties. Those are public officers which Sagay is not. He is holding an appointment at the pleasure of Mr President; he was not screened.
So apart from the constitutional limitation of the Senate depriving them of powers to invite an individual for his comments, which I consider fair comment, because you asked the president to remove a person and he refused, you now say you are not going to screen RECs. So if Sagay said they are being irresponsible for refusing to perform their constitutional duties, they are behaving true to type.
What is your view on the increasing culture of forgery and perjury in Nigeria’s public space?
It is probably the nature of our society because there is hunger, desperation and joblessness in the land. Even those who have genuine certificates cannot get any gainful employment talk less of those who are school drop outs.
People with information should come forward and report so that those who are involved are prosecuted. There could be some being prosecuted. What can be worse for a fake lawyer to practice for well over 30 years, and some practice up to the Supreme Court? There are also fake doctors. For ghost workers, those who brought in the names and prepared the vouchers should be arrested.
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