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Bill seeking to empower NASS, State assemblies to summon president, govs passes second reading

LAWMAKERS at both the Federal and State levels may soon be constitutionally empowered to summon the president and governors to appear before the legislature and answer questions bordering on security and allied matters.

A bill seeking to empower lawmakers for such purpose has passed the second reading at the House of Representatives.

Sponsored by Sergius Ogun from Edo State, the bill however, did not explicitly spell out the consequence for disobeying such summon.

But speaking about the likely penalty for disobeying such summons by either state governor or president, the sponsor said it could be “an impeachable offence”.

“The penalty is not explicitly stated but that could be the case.

“When something like this is constitutional, if there is an infraction, it becomes impeachable,” Ogun said.

The bill came almost three months after President Buhari shunned a summons by the National Assembly to appear before it in order to keep the country updated on the security situation of the country.

Buhari failed to ‘honour’ the summons and he was backed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who said the national assembly does not have the power to summon the president.

“The right of the president to engage the national assembly and appear before it is inherently discretionary to the president and not at the behest of the national assembly,” Malami had said.

Speaking at plenary yesterday, Ogun, who is a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker, admitted that no  provision of the 1999 constitution gives the legislative arm the power to summon either the president or governors on any issue.

He said, “You will recall what happened in January when the House summoned President Muhammadu Buhari but he failed to honour the invitation.”

He said it will ensure that presidents and governors are held accountable on issues of national security, and that it will also uphold the doctrine of separation of power.

The house voted in support of the bill after which it was referred to the ad hoc committee on the review of the 1999 constitution.

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