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Buhari’s invitation: Reps spokesman silent over apology to President

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*As legislative experts say dropping resolution can only happen through motion at plenary

By Levinus Nwabughiogu— Abuja

Spokesman of the House of Representatives yesterday kept a deafening silence over a report that lawmakers secretly apologized to President Muhammadu Buhari for inviting him to brief them on the security situation of the country.

It will be recalled that the House had via a motion on December 1, 2020, invited the President to appear before it for the security briefing.

The development was sequel to the cruel killing of over 43 rice farmers in Zarbamari village, Borno State at the time.

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The motion was sponsored by all the lawmakers from Borno State and presented by Hon. Ahmed Satomi on their behalf at plenary had chronicled many senseless killings and attacks by insurgents in the state and prayed for the invitation of the president to the House.

Speaking to State House Correspondents after a visit to the Presidential Villa to officially convey the resolution of the parliament to the President, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila told the country that Buhari had agreed to honour the invitation.

To this end, December 10, 2020, was slated for the president’s appearance.

But barely 24 hours to the time, the President pooh-poohed on his promise.

Nigerians were later to be treated with a statement from the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami that the national assembly lacked the constitutional rights and powers to summon the President for the security briefing, saying it was his prerogatives to preside over security matters.

The U-turn however generated unusual controversy and spat between the opposition lawmakers in the House and the Executive Arm.

The House argued that it had the constitutional powers to summon anyone including the President.

Many informed Nigerians especially from the legal profession also supported the House.

Against this background, the major opposition lawmakers called for the impeachment of the President.

Hon. Benjamin Kalu, the House spokesperson had last week at a press briefing shortly before the House proceeded on Christmas vacation said that the House’s position on the matter remained the same: that they were yet to receive any official communication from the Presidency as to why the President failed to honor the invitation.

But on Sunday, reports filtered in from a national daily (not Vanguard) that the House had dropped the invitation and subsequently apologized to the President for inviting him.

The report added that the sponsors of the motion made the apology secretly.

All efforts were made to elicit their reaction especially from the three most outspoken lawmakers from the lot namely, Hon. Mohammed Monguno (Chief Whip of the House), Hon. Ahmed Satomi and Hon. Ahmadu Jaha failed.

They neither answered their phones nor replied to the text messages sent to them.

Similarly, our correspondent had a tough time getting the Spokesman of the House who had earlier in the day said he was in a function and promised to get back later.

When contacted again in the evening despite a reminder to look at the SMS sent to his phone, he also promised to get back to our correspondent.

Unfortunately, he never did at the time of filing this report last night.

Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that the report was to give a soft landing to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who sources said faced fire from the Presidency over the invitation.

It was learnt that the Presidency and most handlers of the president felt sad and disappointed that a speaker from the ruling party would allow a motion such as that to fly in the first place.

A source who confided in the paper last night however wondered how the House would drop such an invitation on a unilateral basis when it didn’t sit to take a collective decision.

For one, Vanguard can authoritatively report that parliamentary resolutions are not done by any leadership fiat. They are usually done via the consideration of motions at the plenary.

Having taken the resolution to invite the president, the only way such resolution could be dropped or jettisoned must also be through another motion which must happen on the floor of the House may be, upon resumption of plenary next year.

Many informed minds who are conversant with the legislative procedures have therefore expressed regrets that such a resolution could be dropped unilaterally by some people without a motion at plenary to debate it.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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