By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – A member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Igariwey Iduma Enwo has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to an Abuja High Court challenging the legality of the bail out of N413.7 billion for payment of backlog of salaries to civil servants.
Enwo is seeking for a declaration by the court that Buhari’s approval of the bailout funds was “unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and null and void.”
He is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the President from further allocation, distribution, and disbursement of public revenue from Nigeria’s distributable pool account to federal, state and local government without the prescription of the National Assembly.
Rep. Enwo who represents Afikpo North/South federal constituency of Ebonyi State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, faulted the action of the president without recourse to the National Assembly when he single handedly took the decision.
Also joined in the suit alongside President Buhari are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the federal ministry of finance, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the Accountant General of the Federation as well as Auditor General of the Federation.
The lawmaker is praying the court to determine whether President Buhari can by way of fiat issue a lawful directive to the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th defendants to appropriate, distribute, allocate and disburse public revenue from the distributable pool account to the federal, state and local governments without prescription from the National Assembly.
He is also seeking to know whether having regards to the combined effect of section 162, 163, 164 and 168 of the 1999 constitution as amended the president can carry out such an action without National Assembly approval.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, he said his decision to sue Buhari was not “political” but was in defence of the constitutional provision for separation of powers.
He said the power of appropriation rests squarely with the National Assembly and that the federal government cannot appropriate public funds without recourse to the National Assembly.
According to him, “To do so will be for the federal government to act in a cavalier or perfunctory manner and I believe that that is not what the drafters of the constitution intended when the constitution of this country was predicated on the separation of powers.
“Section four of our constitution clearly vests the power of appropriation on the National Assembly. Section five vests the Executive with its own powers and Section six vests the Judiciary with its own powers. So, there is a clear separation of powers.”
Relying on the Constitution of the country, he said section 160 of the Nigerian constitution clearly made it mandatory for the National Assembly to be involved in any form of revenue distribution in the country.
He said for President Buhari to have unilaterally taken the decision on the bail out amounted to boycotting the parliament and alienating it in the scheme of things in a constitutional democracy.
He said, “I am doing this because I feel that this is a constitutional democracy. If you allow this kind of thing not matter the good intention of the federal government, the country’s democracy will be threatened.
On the likely reaction by Nigerians on the matter, the lawmaker said, “this is a country of laws. Everything the government does ought to emanate from the 1999 constitution of Nigeria. Every step the government intends to take must be backed up by the constitution.
“Any day we set ourselves away from the constitution we will be inviting anarchy. What I am saying is that you cannot sacrifice constitutionalism on the alter of political expediency.
“The constitution does not say that our president should be a Father Christmas. Our president is a democratically elected president who swore to abide by the dictates of the constitution.
“We did not elect an Ayatollah or a monarch who would sit in his office and do good to,all manner of men the way he or she desires. Every act of the president, the legislature or the judiciary must emanate from this constitution and other statutes and legal instruments.
“No matter how well intentioned the action of government may be, the moment it is not backed up by the constitution it is a nullity.”