Sagay And Senate’s Scores of Summons

By Carl Umegboro
AGAIN, the red chamber of the National Assembly is at the process of extending its summon to the chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, (PACAC) Professor Itse Sagay; a senior advocate of Nigeria over remarks the distinguished senators considered as demeaning. This has added to the politically-motivated summons the senate is battling with which, without a doubt, would be dividing its concentration from performing objective legislative duties.
Earlier, the Comptroller-General (CG) of Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd) and the Senate sumptuously entertained the nation with free comedies episodically on official-uniform. At about three appearances of the CGC at the Senate’s chamber in honour of his summon, no vital issues was presented to him except queries for appearing on mufti instead of Customs uniform. It lingered until the appearances was eventually halted by the directives of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) following a suit filed in relation to the matter.

Aggregately, the Senate is, so far fighting hardheartedly all the arrowheads of anti-corruption agencies in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The transgression of the Comptroller-General pointed to a resolute position to discharge his duties without the usual regard to the self acclaimed ‘sacred cows’, and therefore had to step on toes of some principal officers of the Senate. Ditto on the acting-chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu who is investigating series of allegations on criminal misconducts of numerous distinguished senators and honourable members, and presently, the PACAC helmsman, Professor Sagay. Incontrovertibly, the nation is in a calamitous state.
Following these blunders, PACAC chairman unequivocally summed the actions as “childish and irresponsible’ and described the chamber as one ‘filled by people of questionable character’ particularly its refusal to confirm the 27 persons nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on account of President Buhari’s calm over Magu’s attempted removal from office as acting-EFCC chairman. The distinguished senators forgot that those that live in glass houses do not throw stones. Unfortunately, the cantankerous, childish and egoistic traits and time always allocated on frivolities that have no significant bearing on the nation is to say the least, height of absurdities.
Holistically, the lawmakers are evidently ridiculing the democracy in practice that to judge from dispositions; immaturity, pettiness and irresponsibility are under-statements. Perhaps, the distinguished senators have forgotten so soon that it’s less than a year a female married colleague, Senator Oluremi Tinubu was verbally assaulted and threatened with a rape and pregnancy by Senator Dino Melaye. Our distinguished lawmakers also forgot that despite the heat of unprecedented economic recession on the country, all the concerns and focus of the distinguished senators were directed at padding of the annual budget for selfish gains. As if that was not enough, the appointment of the Resident Electoral Commissioners which forms the integral part of any democracy is at the moment subjected to a conditionality aimed at vendetta against a political opponent, Magu. By implication, if President Buhari presented incompetent persons for confirmations, they will get automatic clearance with their usual thunderous “…the yeas have it…” to each of them based on the deal. As a matter of fact, this egoistic offer alone clearly confirms that the country is in a serious mess by the constitution of the 8th Republic of the National Assembly. Indeed, this is the height of irresponsibility, irrationality, incompetence and recklessness.
As for summoning of the learned professor, the Constitution is clear on it. Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), as amended albeit empowers each chamber of the National Assembly to direct investigations into inter alia the conduct of any persons, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for; but strictly for executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly. It therefore implies that the powers to summon persons do not cover personal opinions, expressions or remarks by citizens but strictly for legislative purposes.
Furthermore, such arbitrary and incessant summons contravenes the Freedom of Expression as guaranteed in Section 39 (supra) as amended. At most, the senators if believed that such appointee of the President under the category of persons the Constitution exclusively empowers the President to appoint as part of workforce, either by conduct or speech crossed boundary, is to petition the President who is vicariously liable to acts done by his agents in line with “qui facit per alium facit per se” (he who acts through another is deemed to act by himself) or to report to the Police or approach the court. But to summon citizens over expressions and remarks is outside the purview of powers of the lawmakers, instead usurping powers of the Police and the court.
Incidentally, the remarks by PACAC chairman are logically apt vis-à-vis the ridiculous developments in the National Assembly. The salient question begging for answers to the distinguished senators is; could the Senate responsibly clear the Resident Electoral Commissioners under such a proposed ‘strike-a-deal’ with Mr. President pegging Ibrahim Magu’s sack as a condition for confirmation bearing in mind the importance of their assignments in elections for the nation? Logically, the Senate is gradually drifting to a slaughterhouse where personal scores are without restraint settled against perceived enemies who would be helplessly intimidated by their numbers, perhaps, to pugnaciously molest the victims in the name of official duties. To continue issuing summons recklessly under the guise of oversight functions will amount to abuse, and in no distant time reduce the senate as a market square instead of hallowed legislative chamber.

Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and publisher

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