Abuja – Loyal members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, felt hard-done by following a decision by Yakubu Dogara, the House Speaker, to rule in favour of a motion seeking the suspension of President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent Executive Order.
Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta), had moved, under matters of urgent public importance, for an investigation into the constitutional compliance of all subsidiary legislation and Executive Orders by the executive arm of government.
Ossai noted that the Executive Order Number 006 of 2018, signed into law by President Buhari recently, appeared to have hijacked legislative and judicial powers.
He said the order, inter-alia, empowered the executive to restrict dealings in suspicious assets subjected to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption.
Ossai further cited section 44(2)(k) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, saying that it restricted the application of compulsory acquisition of movable and immovable property in any part of Nigeria except on the temporary takings of possession of property for the purpose of any examination, investigation, or inquiry.
Citing section 315(2) of the same constitution, Ossai further argued that “appropriate authority may by order make such modification on an existing law as it considers necessary and in conformity with the provisions of the law.”
According to him, “The executive order number 006 of 2018 is a clear usurpation of legislative and judicial powers and a replication of subsisting legislation such as section 8 of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions Act) of 1983, section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 and certain provisions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act.”
Also, in his submissions, Dan Asuquo (PDP, Cross River) said an order which may deny Nigerians the right to fair hearing negates the tenets of democratic governance.
In the same vein, Chairman, House Committee on Army, Rimande Shawulu, another PDP member from Taraba, said: “Caution must be taken so that nothing is done to offend the rights of people to own property.”
He argued that such will send a wrong signal to the global community, adding that several international rating indices have portrayed Nigeria negatively, owing mainly to the procedures adopted in the fight against corruption.
However, several other lawmakers objected to the motion.
According to Mojeed Alabi (APC, Osun), precedents have been established that the president has powers to issue such orders and the question of the legality of Executive Order 006 need not have arisen.
Alabi described the motion as “hasty and premature”, noting that the only option available to the House was to approach the Supreme Court for interpretation.
But ruling on the motion, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, having put Nkem Abonta’s amendment to vote during which it was rejected, reverted to the same prayer for a voice vote.
And just like the amendment was rejected by a majority in the voice vote, the motion based on the prayer was also rejected with a resounding Nay!
But, not willing to let go, the speaker, using his veto power as presiding officer, passed the motion in favour of the Ayes who were obviously in the minority.
This development led to a near walkout by some APC members who voted against the motion.
With the passage of the resolution, the House, by the ruling of its presiding officer, has spoken against the Executive Order, whilst resolving to also investigate its compliance with the relevant provisions of the constitution.
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