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Lawyers warn against executive, legislature feud

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The Senate during a plenary

Lawyers have warned that unless the committee set up by the Presidency to mediate between the executive and the legislature found answers to the lingering impasse, the conflict will undermine the nation’s democracy.

There has been no love lost between the lawmakers and the executive as both arms of government renewed their rivalry, thereby endangering the rule of law and democratic governance, since President Buhari returned to the country on March 10 and to work on March 13.

Lawmakers are angry that the executive has refused to respect its resolutions as it affects appointees of the executive and has seemingly drawn the battle line by suspending consideration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of 27 persons for appointment as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

Consequently, the presidency, worried over the development and the threat it posses to governance, has set up a committee to mediate between the two warring arms of government. The committee is chaired by vice president, Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).

A senior advocate of Nigeria and author, Lai Babatunde called for maturity. According to him, both arms of government need to conduct themselves in a mature way. His words: “There ‘s always a present danger that the legislature may take over executive functions and with time overrun it, if all the resolutions passed by it should have the force of law. This is perhaps why our presidential constitution has not made it so. Instead, it has clearly spelt out those resolutions, which are mandatorily required. It is important to appreciate the divide between a parliamentary democracy and presidential democracy, which we operate.

“However, the legislature being the conglomeration of the voice of the people from time to time, particularly post election, their opinion as expressed in various resolutions, should not be brushed aside lightly. A delicate balance therefore must be found, maintained and sustained in the interest of the Nigerian people to whom all arms of government remain accountable, on the long run. A pro-people synergy is imperative in the circumstance to avoid overheating the polity. There is no reason why that should be elusive, if indeed the objective of government is to serve the Nigerian people.”

Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN) said the political impasse is uncalled for and unnecessary. He believes that the conflict is in fact; incongruous and capable of undermining the institutions of democracy, adding that the action of the arms of government amounts to committing class suicide.

He said: “I don’t understand why so much noise is being made over the Senate’s decision on Magu. To me, it is much ado about nothing. Our memory is very short in this clime, where people speak before thinking. Under this 4th Republic, the Senate once rejected the nomination of a retired Supreme Court Justice, Pius Aderemi on ground of old age. Justice Aderemi was nominated as Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Chairman by President Olusegun Obasanjo, but was rejected by the Senate on old age ground because he was 71.”

Constitutional lawyer, Sebastine Hon (SAN) in condemning the summoning of Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) by the National Assembly, noted that the courts had decided that the powers of the National Assembly to investigate are not general, but are limited to the executing or administration of laws enacted by the National Assembly and the disbursement and administering of moneys appropriated by it.

“While I agree that Prof. Sagay’s comments against the Distinguished Senators were inappropriate, I make bold to state that the Senate lacks the constitutional competence to summon him to appear before it merely on account of those comments, ” he said.



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