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PDP urges National Assembly to sanction Buhari over $1b



The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday urged the National Assembly to sanction President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly violating his oath of office by withdrawing and spending $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) without the constitutionally required legislative appropriation.

According to the opposition party, Buhari’s “unilateral spending of $496 million (N151.374 billion) from the ECA, without recourse to the legislative approval of the National Assembly, is a gross violation of the laws and constitution of Nigeria and a direct affront to our statutory order as a democratic state.”

In a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, PDP said that “by this action, President Buhari has technically suspended the 1999 Constitution (as amended), plundered the inherent powers of the National Assembly as the principal institution of democratic rule, while re-enacting a sole administratorship in governance as if our nation is operating a military regime.

More disturbing is the revelation that President Buhari paid the $496 million for the purchase of military aircraft from the United States, ignoring allegations of overprice and issues concerning due process, just to achieve a political expediency of currying President Donald Trump’s support for his 2019 re-election bid.”

The PDP stated that Buhari’s action amounted to gross misconduct and betrayal of public trust “because in the bid to push a personal agenda, he deliberately side-stepped statutory legislative scrutiny and acted in clear breach of Section 80 (3) (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

The party noted that while Section 80 (3) states that “no moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Act of the National Assembly”, Section 80 (4) provides that “no moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.”

PDP described as shocking the fact that President Buhari, whose administration claims allegiance to transparency and zero tolerance for corruption, could resort to a violent abuse of the constitution just to “suit a desperate passion of seeking re-election.”

The opposition recalled that following the public outcry against the announcement that Buhari had unilaterally approved the withdrawal of $1 billion from the ECA, the presidency, through his Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Inang, on April 9, 2018 stated that no such approval had been made, adding that the president would never act in breach of Section 80 of the constitution even though they were aware that payments had been made.

“The resort to falsehood, deception and secrecy in the withdrawal from the ECA and the reported $469 million payment for the military aircraft raises very serious issues regarding the integrity of the Buhari presidency.

“While we have nothing against any effort to ensure adequate security in our land, we insist that such must be done within the ambit of due process of our laws and the constitution.

“The PDP urges President Donald Trump, as the President of the world’s biggest democracy, to note that the $469 million paid for the purchase of military aircraft, forms part of proceed for illegal activities of our president, who has violated statutory provisions of our constitution to pursue a selfish agenda.

“We therefore charge the National Assembly to investigate the whereabouts of the balance from the $1billionn ECA fund and the purposes for which it has been taken, as well as save our democracy and constitutional order by invoking appropriate legislative processes against President Buhari for this violation, before it becomes too late.”

Efforts to reach the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for reaction was unsuccessful but the spokesman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, said the President Buhari he knew was not a reckless or lawless person who would take any action without consideration for the rule of law or required procedure.

“I don’t have the facts, but I am convinced that Mr. President must have put into consideration the requirements of the law before taking any action,” Abdullahi said.

The United States Government disclosed at the weekend that it would deliver 12 Tucano A-29 ground attack aircraft to Nigeria in 2020 after the Federal Government concluded the payment of about N153 billion ($500 million) in January this year.

A top U.S. government official confirmed this in an interview with The Guardian and a few others in Lagos, saying that “the conversation began during the previous administration’ but that the “planes have not been fully built.” According to the official, the warplanes are being assembled and will be delivered from Florida before the end of 2020.

The Nigerian military in response to a query on the matter, confirmed the arrangement. “It could take more than a year for the jets to be delivered to Nigeria. Fighter jets and aircraft are not picked off the shelf; normally, it is after a contract would have been signed and money released that they start manufacturing the aircraft,” said military spokesman Olatokunbo Adesanya.

Adesanya, an Air Vice Marshal and Director, Public Relations and Information at the Nigeria Armed Forces (NAF) headquarters also confirmed that the Nigerian government had made full payment to the United States government for the war jets.

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