By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Wednesday, said the National Assembly lacked the constitutional powers to summon President Muhammadu Buhari over worsening security situation in the country.
The AGF, in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja, said the right of the President to engage the NASS and appear before it “is inherently discretionary”.
He argued that the NASS has no constitutional power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the President would be summoned to explain operational use of the Armed Forces.
Malami insisted that President Buhari “has recorded tremendous success in containing the hitherto incessant bombing, colossal killings, wanton destruction of lives and property that bedevilled the country before attaining the helm of affairs of the country in 2015”.
He said: “The confidentiality of strategies employed by the President as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not open for public exposure in view of security implications in probable undermining of the war against terror.
“The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was instrumental to the reclaiming of over 14 Local Governments previously controlled by the Boko Haram in North East is an open secret, the strategies for such achievement are not open for public expose.
“While condoling the bereaved and sympathizing with the victims of the associated insecurity in the country, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN maintained that national security is not about publicity and the nation’s security architecture cannot be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.
“Mr President has enjoyed Constitutional privileges attached to the Office of the President including exclusivity and confidentiality investiture in security operational matters, which remains sacrosanct”.
The AGF contended that President Buhari has the right to decide whether or not he would appear before the legislative arm of the government, adding that such appearance would not be “at the behest of the National Assembly”.
“The management and control of the security sector is exclusively vested in the President by Section 218 (1) of the Constitution as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces including the power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces.
“An invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the Armed Forces to a public interrogation is indeed taking the constitutional rights of law-making beyond bounds.
“As the Commander in Chief, the President has exclusivity on security and has confidentiality over security.
“These powers and rights he does not share. So, by summoning the President on National Security operational Matters, the House of Representative operated outside constitutional bounds.
“President’s exclusivity of constitutional confidentiality investiture within the context of the constitution remains sacrosanct”, Malami’s statement further read.
It will be recalled that the House of Representatives had in the wake of the cold blood massacre of over 43 farmers in Zabarmari, a community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State, summoned President Buhari to appear before it.
Though President Buhari initially agreed to honour the summon on Thursday, he subsequently made a volte-face and shelved his scheduled appearance before the House of Reps.