‘Pres­i­dent Jonathan has no con­fi­dence in NASS’

Bar­ris­ter Sadau Garba is a Kaduna-based pri­vate le­gal prac­ti­tioner and the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Kaduna Hu­man Rights As­so­ci­a­tion. He bared his mind on how Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan is spend­ing the na­tion’s re­sources and why del­e­gates to the on­go­ing nati

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Ibraheem Hamza Muham­mad

Is the pro­posed ref­er­en­dum from the out­come of the na­tional con­fer­ence con­sti­tu­tional? The is­sue of the na­tional con­fer­ence from the le­gal an­gle has no place in our con­sti­tu­tion. It is alien to the con­sti­tu­tion. Sec­tion 4 of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion has given the leg­isla­tive pow­ers to the Na­tional As­sem­bly to make laws for peace, or­der and good gov­er­nance of the fed­er­a­tion of Nigeria. But what the pres­i­dent means is that cer­tain people should come to­gether, con­sti­tute them­selves into a group and fash­ion out the way for­ward for Nigeria.

What the people want to know is what is the Na­tional As­sem­bly, NASS do­ing. The en­tire fed­er­a­tion is in the Na­tional As­sem­bly. You have the sen­a­tors and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives mem­bers. For the pres­i­dent to ex­pend over seven bil­lion naira to or­gan­ise a na­tional con­fer­ence is sad as we have started see­ing the in-house fight­ing and those sleep­ing dur­ing the con­fer­ence. This does not au­gur well for us.

He picked people that are ad­vanced in age to speak for the people, there is a ques­tion mark there. Al­ready we started see­ing most of them fall­ing asleep. When you look at it from such an­gle, I would say the pres­i­dent can­not at this mo­ment hand­pick some people to de­ter­mine the fate of Nigeria.

If he wants any­thing, the NASS is there for him. He has his Coun­cil of Min­is­ters as an ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent as en­shrined un­der Sec­tion 5, he has his ad­vis­ers. He can pack­age it and send it to NASS.

Sec­tion 153 of 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion makes pro­vi­sion for com­mis­sion and coun­cil of states. They are there to ad­vise the pres­i­dent. If he is not clear or in doubt whether Nigeria should go cer­tain di­rec­tion or not, he should con­sult his ad­vis­ers and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral by tabling his is­sues be­fore them be­fore pro­ceed­ing to the NASS and say I want to you to fash­ion a way or to amend the con­sti­tu­tion. They are there for him to do the job.

Why did he leave the NASS and went on to or­gan­ise an­other po­lit­i­cal jam­boree that will not take the people any­where? It shows that the pres­i­dent prob­a­bly does not have con­fi­dence in the NASS any­more. Even though he is say­ing he will take the find­ings to the NASS. If he will take it to NASS why not take the case to NASS and avoid con­vok­ing a con­fab by pick­ing people of ques­tion­able char­ac­ter; from day one of the sit­ting some of the mem­bers said they are the prob­lem of Nigeria. They in­dicted them­selves and it is high time some­one told the pres­i­dent the truth.

How did the pres­i­dent get the money to fi­nance the con­fab?

It was not pro­vided for in the budget. And we are not aware of any sup­ple­men­tary budget sent to the NASS for this con­fab. It is time for the NASS to say what they are here for be­fore it is too late. They should ask the Pres­i­dent to an­swer be­fore it is too late; he should just write to NASS and they amend the con­sti­tu­tion and it be­comes law.

Can the Chief Jus­tice of Nigeria in­ter­vene?

She has no prob­lem with that. One thing with the ju­di­ciary is if you have any prob­lem you go to them for in­ter­pre­ta­tion legally. CJN can­not wake up one morn­ing and make a dec­la­ra­tion. But some­body went to court and he lost. He can ap­peal the rul­ing to a higher court of law.

What ad­vice do you have for re­tired Chief Jus­tice Idris Kutigi who is chair­man of the con­fab?

They are the ones that are sup­posed to ad­vise the pres­i­dent as they have the le­gal knowl­edge and some of the del­e­gates are even Se­nior Ad­vo­cates. Some people are say­ing this money, about N4 mil­lion ev­ery month for each del­e­gate is re­ally bad be­cause 90 per­cent of the con­fer­ence del­e­gates are sup­posed to give back to Nigeria and not col­lect money for their de­lib­er­a­tions. I com­mend the few that say they don’t want the al­lowance, that they are there to serve. People will re­spect them. The na­tion brought us to where we are and made us and this is the time for pay­back. The money can be used to re­pair schools, pro­vide drugs in hos­pi­tals and im­prove power and re­duce the use of gen­er­a­tors. Polytech­nic lec­tur­ers are on strike and no­body cares.

Is Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion’s with­drawal okay with you?

They are with­draw­ing be­cause they need more slots. My view on this is that they should not par­tic­i­pate in any way. If they were given four or five they may go and col­lect the mil­lions to be given to them.

What is your take on the ap­point­ment of a se­nior jus­tice in favour of Jus­tice Zainab Bulka­chuwa as Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal?

I think the case is be­ing taken at the na­tional level, but let’s wait and see. The said jus­tice is not com­plain­ing. And the two ladies leading the ju­di­ciary now it is nor­mal as they are ex­pe­ri­enced and re­spected.

Pres­i­dent Jonathan sus­pended Cen­tral Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Gover­nor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and now God­win Eme­fiele is ap­proved by the Se­nate be­fore they fin­ished their in­ves­ti­ga­tion?

A lot of rig­ma­role is con­tained in this saga. He will not re­sume un­til the ex­pi­ra­tion of Sanusi’s time prob­a­bly. Sanusi’s ap­point­ment has not been ter­mi­nated. I am not speak­ing on be­half of the govern­ment. As far as the Cen­tral Bank Act is con­cerned, it has to go to the Se­nate. They know what is on the ground.

What of the al­le­ga­tion of miss­ing money and the im­age of the coun­try?

In­ter­na­tion­ally, Nigeria is be­ing ridiculed that it is not se­ri­ous in re­gard to the is­sue of cor­rup­tion. I ad­vise the govern­ment to take de­ci­sive ac­tion by sus­pend­ing AlisonMadueke and the GMD of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, if there is go­ing to be a foren­sic au­dit of the NNPC. The au­dit can­not take place with the min­is­ter on the seat. Def­i­nitely some­thing fishy will take place.

GEJ was quoted as say­ing the miss­ing money is 10 and not 20 bil­lion dol­lars?

It is in the pub­lic do­main in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Just re­cently our young grad­u­ates died for im­mi­gra­tion re­cruit­ment ser­vice, while 20 years back people didn’t go for im­mi­gra­tion job. These youth died in their prime seek­ing for job and 10 bil­lion dol­lars is miss­ing from Nigeria cof­fers, and noth­ing is be­ing done.

Does that mean that fed­er­al­ism is threat­ened by re­gional ten­den­cies and de­mands by del­e­gates?

No. It is just in­ter­nal crises and a lot of people are say­ing we are not se­ri­ous in re­solv­ing. In the North you have in­ter­nal crises of Boko Haram and if you go to the Niger Delta you have the is­sue of armed rob­bery and kid­nap­ping tak­ing place and in the south armed rob­bery. The en­tire na­tion is in cri­sis and not just re­gional.

Is the role be­ing played by the first lady con­sti­tu­tional?

The govern­ment has not given her any of­fice. But as far as the con­sti­tu­tion of Nigeria is con­cerned there is noth­ing like the of­fice of the first lady. It is un­con­sti­tu­tional un­less pro­vided for in the con­sti­tu­tion. If you want your wife to be seen at func­tions then make her a min­is­ter or an ad­viser.

Many le­gal an­a­lysts are of the opin­ion that since Nigeria’s con­sti­tu­tions were made by the mil­i­tary and not by civil demo­cratic gov­ern­ments, we need a new one. What is your opin­ion on it?

Yes, we are sup­posed to amend the con­sti­tu­tion. If they need an amend­ment we don’t need the con­fab. Tech­nocrats, lawyers, le­gal ad­vis­ers, Min­istry of Jus­tice are there, a small com­mit­tee to do the pro­posed amend­ment and for­ward it to the pres­i­dent for on­ward pre­sen­ta­tion to the NASS. But many things are done wrongly in Nigeria. If NASS is in­ac­tive, no or­di­nary Nige­rian can do any­thing about it. The con­fab is the fault of the NASS.

Bar­ris­ter Sadau Garba

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