Presidency Ignores National Assembly’s Threat to Invoke Constitutional Powers

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  • House refers Jibrin, Kazaure to ethics c’ttee over remarks on resolutions
  • Again, police reverse selves over Saraki, suspects exonerate Senate President

Omololu Ogunmade, Deji Elumoye, Senator Iroegbu and James Emejo in Abuja

The presidency Wednesday ignored the threat issued by the National Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday to take decisive steps on a series of resolutions passed by a joint session of the federal legislature, failing which it shall invoke its constitutional powers against him.

Answering questions from journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the presidency would not respond to the resolutions.

The National Assembly had after a two-hour joint executive session on Tuesday come up with a 12-point resolution, asking the president to address a myriad of problems bedevilling the country or face the music.

But as weighty as the resolutions were, the presidency has resolved not to dignify the National Assembly with a response, effectively challenging the legislature to invoke its constitutional powers if indeed it feels it is up to the task.

The 12-point resolutions read by Senate President Bukola Saraki warned that the National Assembly would not hesitate to evoke its constitutional powers against the executive if nothing was done to address such resolutions, including the persistent harassment and humiliation of perceived enemies of the president.

The National Assembly said the security agencies must be given marching orders by the executive to curtail the sustained slaughter of Nigerians “and protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, as these are the primary duties of any responsible government”.

It also canvassed for the cessation of systemic harassment and humiliation by the executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinions including legislators and the judiciary by the police and other security agencies.

The legislature also reaffirmed its earlier resolution of a vote of no confidence on the Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris, saying he “does nothing other than preside over the killing of innocent Nigerians and consistent framing of perceived political opponents of the president and has outright disregard for constituted authority”.

Also briefing the correspondents in the State House Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said FEC approved a memorandum for the procurement of 68 brand new Ford pick-up operational vehicles from Messrs Wada Autos Limited at the cost of N1.550 billion for the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

According to her, the operational vehicles that are currently available to the NCS are grossly inadequate for effective anti-smuggling activities, adding that the need to effectively patrol the borders of the country, enhance the Customs’ bid to suppress smuggling and increase revenue collection had given rise to the request for the purchase of 68 operational vehicles.

She also said the council approved the report of the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee on Tax Laws Reform.

According to Adeosun, FEC had on February 1, 2017, approved the revised National Tax Policy in order to pave the way for a robust tax system that will promote investment and improve revenue for sustainable national development.

She listed the fiscal objectives of the policy to include the removal of obsolete, ambiguous and contradictory provisions in the extant laws, increase government revenue, simplify the process of paying taxes and doing business, promote micro, small and medium enterprises, and protect the most vulnerable persons in the society.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said FEC also approved five memoranda, which among others, are meant to train non-graduates in various skills that will enable them to be self-employed.

She also said the training and skills acquisition programmes are to be executed through the various categories of the Social Investment Programme.

Just as the presidency elected to remain mute over the 12-point resolution of the National Assembly, including the threat to use its constitutional powers against the president should he choose to ignore the resolutions, the House of Representatives Wednesday resolved to commit two of its members – Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano) and Hon. Mohammed Gudaji Kazaure (APC, Jigawa) – to its Committee on Ethics and Privileges for investigation.

Both were accused of making unsavoury comments and divulging the issues discussed at a joint executive session of the Senate and the House to the press without authorisation.

Even though Kazuare was in support of the resolutions of the National Assembly, he made it very clear that a group he headed in the House would oppose any attempt to impeach the president.

Jibrin, on the other hand, had among other issues said the joint session was attended solely by lawmakers on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), effectively declaring the resolution a “PDP resolution”.

The decision of the House Wednesday was triggered when Hon. Sunday Karimi (PDP, Kogi) raised a point of order bordering on breach of privilege.

He berated Jibrin for issuing a statement to the press a few hours after the joint executive session.

Karimi said there was a need for Jibrin to be called to order by the House, as he appeared set to “turn the chamber upside-down”.

He said the deliberate move by the Kano-born lawmaker to subvert the truth was not in the best interest of the green chamber.

Also, coming under the same matter of breach of privilege, Hon. Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) and Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) – both of whom were fingered by Kazaure as being the arrowheads in the call for Buhari’s impeachment in the lower chamber – denied the allegation and demanded that Kazaure be made to face a disciplinary committee.

Ossai said contrary to Kazaure’s claim, he was not one of those alleged to have collated signatures to impeach the president.

Chinda, on his part, said he would not have bothered if the allegations were true, adding that it was the job of lawmakers to initiate an impeachment process against the president, more so when it is done in tandem with the law.

He, however, expressed concern that the issues raised by Kazaure concerning the executive session were half-truths.

Ossai, who chairs the House Ethics and Privileges Committee, however, objected to the suggestion to refer Kazaure to the committee so as to avoid being a judge in his own case.

But House Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, insisted Kazaure should face the committee while Ossai could recuse himself from the investigation and allow his deputy to take charge in the particular case involving him.

The Speaker specifically expressed concern that he witnessed a number of members sneaking out of the executive session without canvassing any position only to speak to the press thereafter.

He advised members to always stick to the truth and not mislead the public on the activities of the parliament.

He subsequently referred Jibrin and Kazaure to the Ethics and Privileges Committee of the House.

Back and Forth by Police

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police have again reversed themselves by insisting that Senate President Bukola Saraki must appear in person before the Force Intelligence Response Unit in Abuja for questioning over the Offa bank robberies and the killing of 33 people in Kwara State.

This was as the police said they had arrested two more gang leaders in connection with the investigation into the Offa robberies.

The police alleged that the gang leaders were political thugs and were carrying out clandestine operations for Saraki.

The police on Sunday had asked Saraki to report to the Force Intelligence Response Unit after it alleged that some of the suspects linked to the Offa robberies in their custody had implicated the Senate President.

But just as the Senate President had asked his aide to go to the Force headquarters on Monday to get the letter of invitation, he returned with a letter stating that Saraki’s presence was no longer required, but was expected to send a written response to the police within 48 hours.

However, the police made another about turn Wednesday when they said Saraki would have to appear in person to explain his role in the robberies in his home state.

The volte-face by the police may not be unconnected to the reaffirmation of the vote of no confidence passed by the National Assembly on the police boss, Ibrahim Idris on Tuesday.

Briefing the press Wednesday, the police spokesman, ACP Moshood Jimoh, said contrary to claims by the Senate President that he was to respond through a written statement within 48 hours, the police were still standing by its earlier invitation issued via a press briefing on Sunday.

Jimoh was adamant that Saraki must appear before the Force Intelligence in Guzape, Abuja, to explain his involvement and alleged link to the gang leaders and principal suspects of the robbery attacks.

According to him, investigators were still expecting the Senate President to report at police unit to explain his links to the suspects, irrespective of what the contents of the letter as claimed by Saraki stating to the contrary.

“The invitation was never withdrawn, I read to you (journalists) that the Senate President was being invited to come and answer to the allegations levelled against him by the five gang leaders here. As I said earlier, the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki has a case to answer,” Jimoh said.

Jimoh also revealed that two more men were named by the overall gang leader, Ayoade Akinnibosun, during the parade of suspects on 3 June.

The newly arrested men were identified as Alhaji Kehinde Gobiri, also known as Captain, and Alhaji Oba Shuaib Olododo, a.k.a Jawando.

“However, a third wanted person, Alhaji Dona is still at large. Gobiri is 47 years old, while Olododo is 53 years old,” he said.

According to the police, the two men, all from Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, have admitted to various crimes and criminalities that they had committed in Kwara Central Senatorial District under the guise of working as political thugs for Saraki.

“They are currently under investigation and will be charged to court on completion of the investigation,” Jimoh, said.

Continuing, the police spokesman said: “New revelations from further investigations into the matter show that all the five gang leaders, namely, Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibukunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salawudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran, have direct connection to the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki as new pictures of one of the five gang leaders when paraded by the police early in the week was in the aso ebi (trouser) used during the Senate President daughter’s wedding.

“The five gang leaders further admitted that they attended the Senate President daughter’s wedding held recently.

“The Nigeria Police Force will not be cowed or succumb to intimidation from any quarters in carrying out a thorough and discreet investigation into the Offa bank robberies where significant successes have been recorded. The ongoing investigations will be driven to a logical conclusion.

“The Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki is still under investigation in connection to the Offa bank robberies and the Nigeria Police Force will do everything possible within the ambit of the law to ensure that justice is done in this case.”

Jimoh recalled that on June 3, he paraded 15 suspects including the five gang leaders and 17 other principal suspects who had confessed and volunteered statements to the police investigation team on the active criminal roles they played in the robbery of six commercial banks, attack on divisional police headquarters in Offa and the killing of 33 innocent persons.

He said that the gang leaders confessed to the police that Ayoade Akinnibosun, a.k.a AY ‘M’ 37yrs was the gang leader from Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State.

“He said that they also confessed to having coordinated the bank robberies and the killing of innocent persons during the robberies.”

Jimoh also recalled that one Ibukunle Ogunleye ‘M’ 36yrs was the gang leader from Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State confessed to have killed two persons during the bank robberies.

He added that Adeola Abraham ‘M’ 35yrs another gang leader from Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State confessed to have killed five persons during the bank robberies, while Salawudeen Azeez ‘M’ 49yrs another gang leader from Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State also confessed to have killed two persons during the bank robberies.

Also, Niyi Ogundiran ‘M’ 37yrs, yet another gang leader from Oro, Irepodun LGA, Kwara State, was said to have confessed to have killed two persons during the bank robberies.

Jimoh further stated that the other 17 suspects volunteered confessional statements admitting their active participation in the Offa bank robberies and also corroborated the confessions of the five principal suspects.

According to him, “During the parade, the main gang leader, Ayoade Akinnibosun a.k.a AY ‘M’ 37yrs, mentioned three other suspected vicious and notorious political thugs in possession of firearms, ammunition and other dangerous weapons working, according to him for the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki in the Kwara Central Senatorial District, namely: Alhaji Kehinde Gobiri, aka Captain, Alhaji Oba Shuaib Olododo, aka Jawando, and Alhaji Dona.

“Two of these suspects, namely: Alhaji Kehinde Gobiri, aka Captain, ‘47yrs’ native of Ilorin East LGA Kwara State and Alhaji Oba Shuaib Olododo, aka Jawando, ‘53yrs’, native of Ilorin South, Kwara State are now in police custody and have admitted to various crimes and criminalities they have committed in Kwara Central Senatorial District under the guise of political thuggery for the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki. They are currently under investigation and will be charged to court on completion of the investigation.”

“Consequent upon all the above and the confessions of the five gang leaders, namely: Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibukunle Ogunleye, Adeola Abraham, Salawudeen Azeez and Niyi Ogundiran, and some of the other 17 suspects arrested for direct involvement and active participation in the Offa bank robberies and the gruesome killing of 33 innocent persons, they admitted and volunteered statements that they are the political thugs of the Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sen. Bukola Saraki and the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Alh. Abdulfatah Ahmed.

“The five gang leaders further confessed during the investigation that they are political thugs under the Youth Liberation Movement, a.k.a ‘Good Boys’, and admitted to have been sponsored with firearms, money and operational vehicles by the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed.

“These confessions were made before the media and the public on the 3rd of June, 2018. It is therefore evidently clear that the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki has a case to answer.”

Jimoh stressed that it was also discovered during further investigations that three gang leaders who participated actively in the Offa bank robberies – Ayoade Akinnibosun, Ibukunle Ogunleye and Adeola Abraham – had followed Saraki to Olofa’s Palace when the Senate President paid a condolence visit to Offa after the bank robberies.

After Jimoh’s briefing, the suspected robbery gang leader, Akinnibosun informed journalists that the Senate President was not aware of their alleged criminal activities.

Akinnibosu said his gang members had gone with the Senate President to visit the Olofa’s (traditional ruler) palace, but not on his invitation. He also claimed that they heard about the visit through Saraki’s friend, Samshudeen Bada who invited them.

According to him, “I have a friend, he is a politician close to the Senate President; his name is Samshudeen Bada. He was the one that called me and told me that the Senate President was going to Offa, so I called Kunle Arrow and I called Adex that the Senate President was going to Offa.

“I went with my Lexus SUV to pick them up and we went to Offa, and on getting there, not quite 10-15 minutes later, the Senate President was done. When he was done with the Olofa, he said he was going to Ilorin, so we followed him and when we got to a village, Eleyeoka, he stopped to ease himself. Senator Ibrahim Rafiu (Saraki’s friend) now gave us N50,000, he gave the money to me.”

Another suspect, Mr. Adeola Abraham was also asked how he got the Aso-ebi (ceremonial uniform) that was worn during Saraki’s daughter’s wedding, to which he said that it was provided by Akinnibosu.

Abraham maintained that he had no direct relationship with the Senate President, describing himself as a “mere political follower”.

Abraham, who was still wearing the Aso-ebi at the time of the interview, could however not give an account of the amount of money that was stolen during the robberies, stating that it had not been shared.

“After the operation, I asked Kunle about the money that was realised and Kunle asked Ayoade (Akinnibosu) who asked Adikwu who is the overall leader of the gang. He said we can’t share the money now because the police may use it to track us,” he explained.

But debunking these claims, the police spokesman said that further arrests and confessions had shown that the suspects have direct links with Saraki.

Jimoh maintained that police would not succumb to pressure and will pursue the case to a logical conclusion.