The House of Representatives, yesterday, threatened to invoke section 89 of the 1999 Constitution to arrest some senior officials of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
The officials include Senior Adviser to the President on Prosecution, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, who doubles as the Chairman of Special Presidential Investigation Panel, SPIP, on Public Assets Recovery; Office of the Vice President; Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha.
Others are the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita; Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris; Account-General of the Federation; Auditor General of the Federation and all relevant stakeholders in the legal and financial administrations of the country.
Others invited also are the Budget Office of the Federation, Code of Conduct Bureau, National Human Rights Commission and Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
Reasons for the proposed arrest were their failure to honour the invitation of the House Adhoc Committee investigating the legality and modus operandi of the special presidential panel to a public hearing, which commenced, yesterday, at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
It was observed that while the chairman of the panel appeared by proxy in the person of the Head, Legal Unit, Mr. Celcus Ukpong, most of the agencies sent either a director or deputy director as representatives.
The development angered chairman of the Adhoc Committee, Aliyu Pategi, and his members who lambasted the officials for treating their invitations with levity and by extension, disregarding the people of Nigeria who they represent.
Making his remarks, Pategi said the hearing was not to witch-hunt anyone but to ascertain in line with best practices, how and the panel got its monetary appropriations, since the panel was not known to the Parliament.
According to him, the adhoc committee was set up sequel to a motion considered by the House on March 2, 2018.
He said: “We must do things with decorum in line with global practices. No expenditure can be carried except in the manner described by the National Assembly. Our effort is not to witch hunt. The public hearing is meant to gather information on the issue.
“We must get to all seizures and locations to ensure that SPIP is operating under the constitution of the federal Republican of Nigeria. A holistic oversight will be conducted.
“We checked our entire appropriation act, and we have not seen anywhere money has been appropriated by the Parliament from 2016.
“As a Parliament, we have been complaining about the frosty relationship between the legislature and the executive. We have always been accused of not passing the budget early but you are not up and doing. I am telling you that all of you were late in your submissions apart from Human Rights Commission.
“The chairman (Presidential panel) is not here. We don’t take representation in parliament. Nobody is above the law. You said that the chairman traveled, traveled to where? He is responsible to the people. We are going to insist on probity, accountability as well as legislative oversight.”