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Senate lacks constitutional powers to summon Buhari, says Nwabueze

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Elder statesman, Prof Ben Nwabueze, yesterday, faulted the decision of the Senate to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly over the purchase of military aircraft without the authorisation of the National Assembly, saying the senate lacked the power to do so.

The constitutional lawyer, in his letter to the senate, obtained by The Guardian, said the President is entitled to appear before the National Assembly whenever he chooses to do so in order to deliver a state of the nation address, but whenever he goes to there for this purpose, he does so in state.

According to him, whilst Buhari, by his actions and utterances, may have brought humiliation and degradation to himself as President, he remains the head of state and should be treated as such, and accorded all the pomp and dignity appertaining to the office.

He, however, commended the senate for its courage in checkmating what he called “the incipient dictatorship of Buhari,” adding: “It is, to me, simply unpardonable that he should pay out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation, the sum of $496,000,000 for the purchase of military aircraft without the authorisation of the National Assembly, as specifically required by Section 80 of the constitution ‘in the expectation,’ as he puts it in his letter, “that the National Assembly would have no objection.

“Yet, summoning him to appear before the National Assembly to address it on the state of the nation and to answer questions in explanation of his actions raises questions as to whether the National Assembly has the power to so summon him and whether it is proper for it to do so.”

The learned lawyer stressed that the word, “summon,” is defined by the dictionary as a “command or order by authority to appear,” saying: “It is true that Section 89(1)(c) of the constitution empowers the Senate or the House of Representatives to “summon any person in Nigeria,” but the President is not covered within the meaning of the term, “any person,” under the section, because he is also the “Head of State” so proclaimed by Section 130(2).

“The term, “any person,” must therefore be viewed within the context of the concept of the state and the concept of Head of State. These are very complex concepts, which I have tried to explain in one of my books,” he said.

Quoting from the book, he said: “The next development in the concept of a state was its linkage to the idea of sovereignty, a process of thought, which was progressively developed to a point where the state itself was proclaimed sovereign. This is not unintelligible.

“Legal sovereignty is an attribute of government, and since the state is government transmuted into a corporation, the sovereignty associated with government must inure to the state.

“Important implications flow from the conception of the state as a distinct corporate entity separate from the organs of government.


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