Wonders if the plan by the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against President Muhammadu Buhari over security skirmishes across the country will see the light of the day
The Minority Caucus in the National Assembly on July 28, 2022 handed down a six-week ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure a significant improvement in the security situation in the country or risk impeachment. The federal lawmakers threatened to review the situation at the expiration of the ultimatum.
The leadership of the red chamber quickly convoke a security meeting which was attended by heads of the military, security, intelligence and para-military agencies in the country to find out why the insecurity situation persisted despite the consistent allocation of funds to them for the purpose of combating the scourge.
The security chiefs told the legislators behind closed doors, details of the efforts they were making to address the embarrassing situation. They also, reportedly pledged to ensure a great improvement before the lawmakers would resume their current annual recess on Tuesday, September 20.
Just a week to the expiration of the impeachment threat ultimatum, the leadership convened another security meeting last week presided over by the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan and had in attendance, service chiefs and heads of security and intelligence agencies.
Is N’Assembly’s Move to Impeach Buhari Still on the Card?
Shortly before the meeting dissolved to close session, Lawan had on behalf of his colleagues expressed satisfaction that the military and security agencies had ensured a remarkable improvement in the security situation between when the lawmakers handed the ultimatum to Buhari and now.
The red chamber nevertheless frowned at the massive oil theft and other economic sabotage being perpetrated in the oil-rich Niger Delta area of the country, and asked the security chiefs to rise to the occasion and stem the tide.
The Senate specifically asked heads of military and security agencies in Nigeria to start prosecuting individuals and groups, suspected to be involved in oil theft and other acts of economic sabotage.
It also tasked the Judiciary, to ensure accelerated hearing of matters on oil theft and other forms of economic sabotage.
Lawan said the meeting was meant to review the progress made in the fight against insecurity in the country.
According to him, it was a follow up to a similar one held early in August which he presided over.
The follow-up parley was attended by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, other principal officers of the Senate and Chairmen of security related committees of the Senate.
Also in attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, the three Service Chiefs, Inspector General of Police, Directors-General of National Intelligence Agency(NIA), and the State Security Service(SSS).
Others were, the Commandant General of the National Security and Civic Defence Corps while the Acting Comptroller General of the Immigration Service was represented.
Lawan noted with concern, the massive theft of the nation’s crude oil and insisted that the development must be halted while the perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted immediately.
He said, “Those who have made every effort to steal our oil at an industrial scale, I’m sure some of them may not be that lucky to escape.
“We want to see trials of people who are caught because when that happens, citizens will know that nobody, no matter how high that person is, can go scot free if he or she decides to get involved in this kind of criminal activities.
“Of course, I will appeal to our courts – judiciary – once we have cases like this, we must give expeditious consideration, because these are the issues that, today, are militating against our stability and even against our democracy.
“We lose so much of our oil. As at the last count, the report was that we export just little above 900,000 barrels. And that is just about 50 per cent because it is supposed to be 1.8million barrels per day and that is halving our revenues and our resources for development.
“So, I want to appeal to the judiciary to give a special consideration once a suspected oil thief is taking to Court. We must prosecute them. It is not enough to just take away whatever they have stolen and say go and sin no more.”
The Senate President expressed delight that the security situation in the country had improved tremendously after the August engagement with the security and military chiefs.
He said, “Before we closed for our annual summer recess, Distinguished Senators and indeed, members of the National Assembly expressed so much concerns with respect to the security situation prevailing and we felt we must engage our security agencies so that together, we will continue to fight these challenges in our country.
“I am happy and I’m sure I’m speaking the mind of my colleagues, that after that meeting, till today, we have seen remarkable difference in the fight against insecurity in our country by our Armed Forces and other security agencies and we are very proud of that.
“We pray that this continue because we have seen the initiative and it is for us to finish the job. When Mr President spoke of ensuring that we return to normalcy by December 2022, I’m sure he had in mind what you have been doing recently.
“I believe that you, our Armed Forces and other security agencies have everything in terms of the morale and determination, even though we still have to give some other support. This meeting therefore is to review what has happened so far.
“While we fight the insecurity in the country, sometimes we capture bandits alive”.
Lawan also appealed to the Security Chiefs to take the law makers into confidence during the closed door session.
He said, “We are responsible people. There are things that we know are very sensitive but some things are treated better when we are on the same page so that we also don’t legislate blind folded or without the necessary background information.
“Where there are requests or requirements to enhance the capacity and the competence for Armed Forces and other security agencies, I think we should consider that as a priority as well,” the Senate President said.
Findings by THISDAY revealed that the opposition lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly were regularly meeting to review the impeachment threat they handed down to Buhari on July 28, 2022 but observers believe that the position of the Senate President after the last meeting with the security chiefs indicated that planned action was dead on arrival.
A ranking Senator was quick to inform THISDAY that the position of the opposition lawmakers will be looked into again as soon as the National Assembly reconvened on Tuesday.
The immediate past Senate Minority Leader, who is representing Abia South Senatorial District in the 9th National Assembly, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe said the opposition lawmakers would meet to review the matter when the nation’s apex legislative institution resumes plenary from Tuesday.
Is N’Assembly’s Move to Impeach Buhari Still on the Card?
Abaribe, who spoke with THISDAY in a telephone interview said the opposition lawmakers’ next line of action would be communicated to Nigerians after they had met to review the current security situation.
The Senator said: “We will resume on Tuesday and we expect the Minority Caucus leadership in both chambers to meet and convene a broad based meeting where we would review the security situation in the country.
The outcome of our meeting would determine our next line of action. I cannot categorically say what would be the decision now until our meeting.”
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party in the House of Representatives had earlier in July agreed to support the moves by their counterpart in the Senate to impeach Buhari if he failed to address the insecurity situation in the country within six weeks.
The Senate Minority Leader, Phillip Aduda and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, briefed journalists after the joint closed door meeting on Thursday, July 28.
They had said the collection of signatures across party lines would be taken at the two chambers in September, if Buhari failed to tackle insecurity before the expiration of their ultimatum.
Aduda had explained that the plan to sack Buhari if he failed to honour their demands, was not the idea of the minority caucus in the Senate but a resolution taken by the entire senators at the closed session held before proceedingon annual vacation.
Aduda said, “Indeed, all of you are aware of what happened yesterday and we felt that there was the need to be on the same page with the members of the members of the House of Representatives.
“Our action was spontaneous from the issues that were raised on the floor of the Senate.
“I am sure that members of the Press must have interacted with our various colleagues to know that this issue is not just about the PDP caucus but it is a bipartisan issue.
“We all agreed that the security architecture is failing and there is need to salvage it immediately and we also agreed that we must issue an impeachment notice to the President because the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives of the citizens.
“We have called the caucus in the House of Representatives so that we can discuss with them so that they can hear from us and understand what we did.”
Elumelu had also, on the occasion, told journalists that his colleagues in the green chambers would start collecting signatures as soon as the ultimatum expired without improvement in the disturbing security situation in the country.
He said, “They (Senators), have given six weeks for Mr. President to address the insecurity that is, of course, affecting this nation, and I want to join on behalf of my colleagues to also say that upon the expiration, we will proffer ways of ensuring that we will gather all the signatures.
“Let me make it clear. Those who are thinking that it is only the issue of PDP or the minority caucus. Many of our colleagues under the bipartisanship are affected. Many of them are affected.
“They may not be speaking but we may be speaking for them. And when them time comes. I heard somebody this morning saying it is a laughable attempt to want do that.
“Perhaps, when the action starts, the person will find out that it’s not a laughable action. It’s real and we will not stand to allow this nation collapse”.