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Insecurity: SANs Back Senators’ Threat to Remove Buhari from Office

Insecurity: SANs Back Senators’ Threat to Remove Buhari from Office

Gboyega Akinsanmi in Lagos and Alex Enumah in Abuja

Six senior lawyers in the country have thrown their weight behind some members of the National Assembly over their six-week ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately halt the rising insecurity in the country or face removal from office.

The lawmakers, particularly some members of the Senate, who staged a walkout from Wednesday’s proceedings, had expressed anger that the current administration had woefully failed to curtail terrorism, which has come to the doorsteps of the seat of power in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
In their separate interviews with THISDAY at the weekend, the senior lawyers described the move as commendable.

The SANs – Mr Femi Falana, Chief Mike Ozekhome, Mallam Ahmed Raji, Reverend John Baiyeshea, Mr Dayo Akinlaja and Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa – justified the ultimatum given to President Buhari by the federal lawmakers.
Some of the senior lawyers who described the lawmakers’ threat as a “wake-up call” for the president, however, expressed strong reservations about the capability of the lawmakers to implement their threat.

Ozekhome described the lawmakers’ actions as “perfectly in order.”
“It is even coming too late. They should have done this over two years ago, when, after his second ticket, he showed no sign of improvement in his leadership capacity and governance style. Surely, you cannot give what you don’t have (nemo dat quod non habet).

Ozekhome, however, added that the ninth National Assembly is too weak to carry out this threat.
“It will evaporate into thin air. It possesses no teeth, not even gum, to bite. It can never mobilise the required two-thirds majority votes under Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution, to carry out the impeachment threat, otherwise, President Muhammadu Buhari has done more than enough to deserve impeachment,” Ozekhome said.

He identified what he described as prostrate, insecurity, and insecurity as some of the evidence of Buhari’s failure.  
“Do you not know that Nigeria has fallen into the category of failed states, with non-state actors dictating to Buhari’s legitimately elected government? Do you not know that Abuja, the federal capital, is no longer safe, with bandits and Boko Haram strolling freely, bulldozing their way into Kuje prison and releasing their fellow inmates?” Ozekhome said.

On his part, Falana argued that the efforts of Buhari’s administration “are not enough as they have not yielded positive results.  Hence, the call for the President’s resignation since he says he is anxious to return home.”

He doubted the seriousness of the opposition senators about their plan to impeach the president as they have threatened.
He said: “If they had wanted to commence the impeachment of the President they would have signed and served an impeachment notice pursuant to Section 143 of the Constitution.
“They did not sign the notice

since the impeachment may not succeed because the APC controls both chambers of the National Assembly,” the senior lawyer observed.
Describing the threat of removal of Buhari as the confirmation of the reality of the failure of his government, Adegboruwa cited Section 14(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to buttress his support for the impeachment threat.

The section states: “It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: (a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and (c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured following the provisions of this Constitution.”

He argued that the Buhari’s administration had failed to fulfil its statutory responsibilities to the people of the federation, citing heinous cases of insecurity across all states.

Adegboruwa explained that federal lawmakers “are the people who represent their constituents in the National Assembly. They can feel fear in the mind of everyone due to insecurity in our land. What this means is that the government has failed.

“There is no element of reasonable assurance of security anywhere in this country. That has failed. This means that there is no government. If there is any government at all, it has failed to fulfil its statutory responsibility to the people.”
While justifying the lawmakers’ threat to remove the president, Adegboruwa noted that the call should have come earlier than now concerning the failure of government, especially at the federal level.

He said: “The call is justified. I support it. And a good number of Nigerians support it. Presently, we have reached a dead end. People can no longer sleep. They can no longer travel freely. They can no longer farm.

“There is nothing people can do reasonably with some level of assurance because bandits, insurgents and terrorists have taken over. They have a plan to kidnap the president. They are working towards that goal every day.”
The senior lawyer challenged the civil society actors, human rights campaigners, professional bodies and the people of Nigeria “to rise and intensify the campaign to get rid of incompetent leadership.  

“Civil society organisations should play a major role in the campaign for the removal of the president. I also urge the people of Nigeria to become more sensitive and be involved in holding the government accountable.”

Similarly, Raji stated that the threat was a welcome development if it would make the president wake up to his responsibility of protecting lives and property.
“The state of the insecurity calls for grave concern. All efforts must be made to reverse the trend. If it will take the impeachment threat to wake up everyone, it is a good strategy by the distinguished senators. I pray we quickly fix the security problems in the interest of all of us,” he said.

“I  don’t think they seriously desired impeachment. They wanted to strongly register total discontent with the state of insecurity. And l think that has been achieved”, he added.

Baiyeshea, on his part, observed that there is so much anger in the land because the situation in the country is horrible, with terrorists and bandits taking over the government in the country.

While he stated the government seems ridiculously helpless, adding that its failure has brought Nigerians into a state of hopelessness.
He lamented that “the more annoying and disturbing thing is that in this state of anomie, the President is always travelling out of the country”.
Baiyeshea said that the call for the President’s impeachment by members of the National Assembly is justifiable.

“However, I will say that other than the call for impeachment being a ‘wake-up call to the President, the call will not serve any useful purpose. The people making the call are just playing at the gallery. They are also part and parcel of the problem of our nation,” he added.

“They live in their comfort zones, earning fat salaries for doing nothing, in a country whose economy is in dire straits.
“So, it does not lie in their mouths to be asking for the president’s impeachment.

Also reacting, Akinlaja stated that “when it is borne in mind that Section 14 of the Constitution prescribes that the welfare and security of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, it is bound to be understood that the President as the chief executive and commander in chief has a constitutional duty to ensure adequate welfare and security for the people.

“An inescapable upshot of this scenario is that failure to provide welfare and security for the people is tantamount to a violation of the Constitution and may qualify for gross misconduct upon which a President may be removed. The caveat here, however, is that the National Assembly is the sole determinant of what constitutes gross misconduct for the removal of the President.”

According to him, “If it is adjudged by the National Assembly that the President has failed in the area of provision of welfare and security, there is a legitimate basis for its members to invoke their prerogative to remove the President on the footing thereof. In plain terms, therefore, the national lawmakers are in order in taking the step they have taken to give the President the benefit of buckling up vis-a-vis the issue of security or risk facing their commencement of his removal process at the expiry of the ultimatum issued.”

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