James Emejo in Abuja
There were indications Monday that the current plea by the federal government for the leaders of the National Assembly to reconvene from its ongoing long recess to attend to urgent national matters may be far from being heeded.
This is as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the House of Representatives accused the presidency of employing unconstitutional means to forcibly reconvene the parliament.
It noted that there are laid down rules for reconvening the the National Assembly as unambiguously stated in the Rule Book of both the Senate and House of Representatives.
The rules draw their strength from section 60 of the constitution.
The PDP lawmakers, in a statement issued by the House Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, further expressed doubt on the real intention of attempting to reconvene the National Assembly on the pretext of addressing urgent national issues.
Rather, they insisted that it’s “an attempt to unlawfully oust the leadership of the Senate and effect a change of the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President”.
The National Assembly is currently on its long recess and is expected to resume on September 26.
However, the Presidency had recently been pleading with Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, to reconvene in order to address urgent national matters, particularly approving spending for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards the 2019 general election.
But the House PDP Caucus said: “When the National Assembly stands adjourned to a fixed date, it may only be reconvened at an earlier or later date when the leaders of the political parties in the National Assembly make a written representation to the presiding officers stating that there is a need to convene plenary to attend to matters of urgent national importance.
“In such an event, the presiding officer may give notice to members of a date that the National Assembly is to reconvene.”
It further stated: “In the present instance, there has been no such notification to either the Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“Therefore any attempt to operate outside of the rules is illegal. It is symbolic of the hideous excesses of this government’s attempt to wither and destroy the institution of parliament and the bastion of our democracy.
“We urge those who are behind the unholy manoeuvre to desist from these shenanigans and be reminded that we still operate a democracy. It is therefore incumbent on all of us as Nigerians to jealousy guard our hard earned democracy.”
The group said: “This trend of events must be strenuously resisted by all true democrats and well meaning Nigerians. We have over time witnessed a descent of our countries once stable democracy slide into an abyss of illiberal dictatorship.
“A government that has shown disdain for the rule of law, and complete disregard for the principles of separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“As elected representatives sworn to uphold the law and protect our democratic existence, we unreservedly condemn this onslaught on our democratic ideals in general and parliament particular.”
It also reiterated its claim that there’s an impending plot by a small group of senators aided by security agencies to again invade the Senate Chamber with a view to illegally reconvene the Senate plenary.