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As Buhari shuns Reps invitation, House still expecting President

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday failed to appear before the House of Representatives despite his earlier promise to honour the invitation in order to address Nigerians on the growing insecurity in the country.

The House on December 1 had invited him over the rising insecurity after a long debate on the recent killing of 43 rice farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram.

But the House said it was still expecting the President to appear before it to shed light on the security situation.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila told State House correspondents on Thursday that the lawmakers expected the President to fulfil his promise to appear before the House as a man of honour and integrity.

He said Buhari was yet to communicate with the House on why he had not appeared before the lawmakers.

However, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had said on Wednesday that the National Assembly lacked the powers to summon the President to speak on security matters.

But the Senate distanced itself from the invitation extended by the House to President Buhari.

Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege also said it was unconstitutional and an aberration for any arm of the National Assembly to summon President Buhari to appear before it.

The upper chamber, through the Chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru (Osun Central), told reporters in Abuja that the Senate had nothing to do with the invitation of the President by the House.

He said that since the Senate did not summon the President, it would not want to be dragged into the controversy.

Basiru said, “I’m a spokesperson of the Senate. There was no resolution of the Senate that the President should come and address it on the issue of national security.

“I expect that every enquiry as to the summoning and coming of the President should be directed to the House of Representatives.

“We operate a bi-camera legislature. That’s why our rules and procedures are different and that is why also we need concurrence from the two Houses on passing of legislation.

“On this matter, there has not been an issue of a joint resolution. What you have is resolution of the House of Representatives.

“And I believe, the House of Representatives should be able to tell you why the resolution was passed, and what will happen to that resolution.

“As far as the Senate is concerned, we have not summoned the President and we don’t want to get ourselves involved in any controversy as to whether the president will appear or not.

“To the best of my knowledge I’m not aware of any planned joint session of the National Assembly tomorrow.”

The AGF’s spokesman, Dr. Umar Gwandu, had quoted his boss in a statement on Wednesday as saying, “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 National Assembly has no constitutional power to envisage or contemplate a situation where the President would be summoned by the National Assembly on the operational use of the Armed Forces.”

He added, “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.”

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EFCC detains, grills ex-Gov Al-Makura over corruption allegations

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained a former Governor of Nasarawa State and serving senator, Tanko Al-Makura, and his wife, Mairo Al-Makura.
Sources ae the EFCC Abuja head office said thecouple honoured the invitation extended to them by the commission.
One of the sources said they were detained when the operatives of the anti-graft agency demanded some explanations from them about the finances of the state but were unable to answer.
They were said to have been detained and grilled over misappropriation of funds.
Al-Makura governed Nasarawa between 2011 and 2019 before he was elected as the Senator representing Nasarawa South Senatorial District.
It was learnt that the duo were still at the headquarters of the commission in Abuja at about 10:30pm.
Spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, could however not confirm the development, saying he was yet to be briefed.

When contacted, the spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren said he was yet to be briefed on the development.

When contacted for his comment, the ex-governor’s spokesperson, Danjuma Joseph, said he was not aware of the arrest.

“His Excellency left Lafia (Nasarawa State capital) for Abuja this morning. I am not aware of such arrest,” Mr Joseph said.

The former governor, until Wednesday, has never been known to be facing EFCC probe.

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US lawmakers halt $875m military equipment sale to Nigeria

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United States lawmakers have stalled a proposed sale of attack helicopters to Nigeria based on President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s perceived human rights abuse, the Endsars protests of 2020 that ended in crisis and banditry.
According to Saharareporters, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
Former US President, Donald Trump’s administration had agreed to sell the Nigerian government 12 A-29 Super Tucano warplanes, resurrecting a proposed sale the Obama administration froze after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp that January. The first batch of those planes arrived in Nigeria earlier this month.
The report notes that the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
This is also an indication that the US lawmakers want to push the Biden administration to rethink US relations with Nigeria amid overarching concerns that President Muhammadu Buhari is drifting toward dictatorship as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including jihadist insurgency.
Nigeria is on the front lines in the battle against Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups, and plays a role in the US and international efforts to roll back extremist groups in the Sahel region of West Africa.
But Western governments and international human rights organizations have ramped up their criticisms of the Nigerian government, particularly in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on protesters after widespread demonstrations against police brutality last year.
Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the U.S. State Department to Congress in January before then-former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy.
Nigeria has relied on U.S. arms sales in the past to help address multiple security challenges: the 12-year insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the country’s northeast, a spate of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom campaigns targeting schoolchildren in the country’s northwest, and deadly clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate change and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land.
The State Department describes the U.S.-Nigeria relationship as “among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa” and has provided limited funding for various military training and education programs.
Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defense sales until it makes a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military and whether the military is doing enough to minimize civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.
“But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail.”
“There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” said Anietie Ewang, the Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos during the country’s massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organizations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now,” Ewang said.
“The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and property. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”

 

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Court frees El-Zakzaky, wife of culpable homicide, other charges

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Justice Gideon Kurada of Kaduna High Court has discharged and acquitted leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria otherwise known as Shi’ites, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
The IMN leader and his wife had been standing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, among other criminal charges since December 2015, following a clash between his followers and convoy of the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Buratai, in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The court had fixed July 28 for ruling in the no-case submission filed by Zakzaky.

Justice Kurada fixed the date after the prosecution and counsel to the defendants addressed the court on the no-case submission prayer
Briefing journalists after the secret trial, counsel to Zakzaky, Marshal Abubakar, said the court upheld their no-case submission and agreed that the case lacked merit.

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