The National President of Revolutionary Lawyers’ Forum, Tope Akinyode, speaks during an interview on Sunrise Daily on August 6, 2020.
A constitutional and human rights lawyer, Mr. Tope Akinyode, has faulted the claim of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), that the National Assembly has no power to summon President Buhari over security issues
He described the AGF’s assertion as a “joke” adding that even an ordinary committee of NASS can summon the president.
The only thing NASS lacks the power to do, according to Akinyode, is to issue warrant against Mr. President.
He said, “I have read a report by the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN stating that the National Assembly has no right to summon the President over security issues because “the management and control of the security sector is exclusively vested in the President”. I have also read some legal opinions giving support to the AGF’s position that the National Assembly cannot summon the President.
“I want to state that within the precinct of the Nigerian Constitution, it is a joke to assume that the National Assembly cannot summon the President. Not only can the National Assembly summon the President, an ordinary committee of either the Senate or House of Representatives is empowered by law to summon the President. What the National Assembly cannot do is to issue a warrant against the President if the President fails to obey the summons.”
Akinyode placed reliance on section 89 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
He said, “By virtue of Section 89 of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly can summon ANY person in Nigeria to give evidence before it over any matter that the National Assembly can enact legislation.”
Reproducing the provisions, he said, “Section 89 (1) (c) of the Constitution states as follows:
“(1) For the purposes of any investigation under section 88 of this Constitutional and subject to the provisions thereof, the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with section 62 of this Constitution shall have power to –
(c) Summon ANY person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions.’ ”
Furthermore, he said
President Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Chairman of Armed Forces Council by virtue of section 4 of the Armed Forces Act
He quoted the provisions of Section 4 (1) of the Armed Forces as follows:
“There shall be established for the Armed Forces a Council to be known as the Armed Forces Council (in this Act referred to as “the Forces Council”).
(2) The Forces Council shall consist of—
(a) the President who shall be the Chairman;
(b) the Minister of Defence;
(c) the Chief of Defence Staff;
(d) the Chief of Army Staff;
(e) the Chief of Naval Staff; and
(f) the Chief of Air Staff”.
Akinyode emphasized that the combined effect of the above provisions is that the National Assembly has the power to summon President Buhari though only to the extent that no summon can be issued against him by dint of section 308 of the constitution.
His position reads in part, “The point to make is that the National Assembly has the power to enact laws in respect of the armed forces. By that token, the President who chiefly administers security issues in Nigeria can be summoned by the National Assembly and even committees of the National Assembly for questioning.
“However, what we must concede is that National Assembly cannot issue a warrant to compel the attendance of the President in the manner in which it could compel the presence of any other person.
“This is because Section 308 of the Constitution has endowed the President with executive immunity, therefore, Section 89 (1) (d) of the Constitution cannot apply to the President