By Henry Umoru & Omeiza Ajayi
.Court cannot stop Ali from appearing in uniform — Senate
•APC’s NWC meets party’s senators tomorrow
•Presidency, Senate face-off bad for Nigeria – Lagos Catholic Archbishop
ABUJA — THE face-off between the Senate and the Presidency is set to escalate upon the Senate’s rebuff of the plea by Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to defer the summons to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd).
Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Nelson Ayewoh, Vanguard learned at the weekend, has been instructed to write Mr. Malami to formally reject his claim that the Senate cannot summon Ali upon the claim that the Customs C-G has gone to court to stop the Senate from compelling him to appear in uniform before it.
This came as the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, announced its resolve to intervene in the on-going rift between the Executive and the National Assembly, saying a meeting had been fixed between its National Working Committee, NWC, and party’s Senate caucus tomorrow.
The party also warned of dire action against troublemakers who might derail its trouble-shooting venture.
A top level source in the Senate said, yesterday, the decision to rebuff Malami was upon the claim that it would set negative consequences that could in the future open the Senate to injunctions that could stop it from performing its constitutional duties.
It would be recalled that Malami had in a letter dated March 21, 2017, written the Senate through the clerk, demanding that the Senate put on hold, further actions against the C-G of Customs as the matter had been taken to court.
“I wish to formally intimate you that I am in receipt of a letter dated March 20, 2017, wherein I have been served with an originating summons in respect of the above subject matter (copy attached).
“In line with the principles of rule of law, Court decisions or most importantly, the declarations sought have been deeply rooted in the constitutional provisions; I hold the view that this matter is sub-judice,” the AGF said.
The court action was upon the Senate order on Ali to appear before the legislative body in uniform to explain the service’s practice of confiscating old vehicles with irregular Customs papers.
The Senate had upon the letter and the refusal of Ali to appear before it, passed a resolution asking President Muhammadu Buhari to strip him of his position on the claim that he was not worthy to hold public office.
Affirming the Senate’s rejection of Malami’s claim that the Senate cannot deliberate on the issue as Ali has gone to court, the source said: “Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has mandated the Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, to write a letter to the Attorney – General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the letter he wrote on the issue of the Customs Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, is not tenable in law in accordance with the principle of separation of powers.
“If the Senate honours the letter written to the Senate by the Presidency, it would serve as a bad precedence in the country where anyone could wake up tomorrow and drag the Senate to court anytime things do not go his or her way.
“The Senate in the letter will make Malami know that no arm of government can be stopped from performing its constitutional duty.
“For instance, a case has not been allotted to any judge or a restraining order, therefore, does it mean that anyone can just file a case and the Attorney- General can say that the Senate should stop it?”
APC meets Senate caucus tomorrow
Meanwhile, as part of its initiative to douse tensions, the APC National Working Committee, NWC, will tomorrow meet with the party’s caucus in the Senate.
The NWC had penultimate week, also met with the party caucus in the House of Representatives. It was the first meeting between the caucus and the party’s NWC.
Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, party spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the party was building upon the peace process earlier initiated by President Buhari who constituted a team led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to also mediate on the crisis.
“The Party reiterates its commitment to ensure that the relationship between the two critical arms of government improves further, and commended the National Assembly leadership for its maturity and pre-disposition to have all the issues resolved as quickly as possible in the interest of the party and the nation as a whole,” the party said in the statement.
However, warning of stiff action against those who derailed the peace process, the party concluded: “The party, however, warns that it would not hesitate to take appropriate action against any member whose utterances or behaviour are capable of jeopardizing the peace initiatives or further worsening the existing situation.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, yesterday pleaded with the Presidency and the Senate to consider the interest of the citizenry and resolve the current face-off between them.
Martins made the appeal in Lagos after inaugurating St. Joseph’s Medical Centre and a guest building built by parishioners of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Gowon Estate, Egbeda.
Prior to inaugurating the projects worth N77million, he administered the sacrament of Confirmation on 785 youths from the Ipaja Deanery.
Confirmation, he said, made recipients soldiers of Christ, ever-ready to preach the gospel to any end of the earth and always work in God’s vineyard.
Martins said that the misunderstanding between both arms of government was uncalled for and could distort the growth of the already dwindling economy and the nation at large.
The sour relationship between the two bodies followed the Senators’ demand that the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, be sacked and the presidency not meeting that request.
The development has resulted in the legislators suspending for two weeks the screening of 27 nominees for appointment as Resident Electoral Commission (RECs) by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While some backed the lawmakers and wonder why the president was insisting on Magu being the Chairman of EFCC, others supported the presidency and blamed the lawmakers.
Similarly, others called for immediate resolution of the misunderstanding with the fear that it portends danger for the country.
“Indeed the present face-off that we can see here is certainly not helping the good of the nation. People are suffering all kinds of deprivations, our people are having all kinds of difficulties, more than ever before, we are having people frustrated so much as to commit suicide.
“This is becoming more and more prevalent among us, and therefore, one expects that they will bring all their energies together in order that it will improve on the economy, in order to improve on the welfare of the people.
“So, we just want to continue to ask them not to forget that they have a duty to serve the people given to them by God, because God is the source of all power if they occupy that position today, it’s because God willed it and they are going to give account one day,” he said.
“Therefore, they should do it with the best of intentions and with the best of desires, one thing that is important is to say is that whatever the case may be, the common good, the good of the people ought to be the primary factor in the relationship between every arm of government.
“If the senate is doing its work purely for common good not because of some selfish reason, or in retaliation for what it sees another arm of government has done, then whatever he is doing must be good.
“But if it’s in retaliation for whatever another arm of government has done or with not a good clear conscience, then obviously, there is something evil about that.”