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Impunity In Senate Must Be Stopped, Falana tells Buhari

Respected human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led executive arm of the Federal Government to ‘adopt decisive measures to terminate the reign of impunity in the National Assembly’.

He said on Wednesday that recent developments in the upper legislative chamber showed that the Senate had thrown caution to the wind.

Falana, in a statement, cited as an example to back his claim the decision by the Senate not to screen the 27 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners until Mr. Ibrahim Magu had been removed from office as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He also said the summons served on the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Itse Sagay (SAN) by the Senate because the Professor of Law criticised it, was informed by the atmosphere of impunity that seemed to have enveloped the Red Chamber.

He added that the Senate also violated settled principles of law by suspending Senator Ndume for six months on Wednesday.

He advised the Senate to reverse itself on the issues, failing which the executive arm of government must ‘adopt decisive measures’ to stop the alleged impunity in the National Assembly.

He said, “In view of the settled state of the law as expatiated on in the aforementioned cases, the Senate is advised to reverse its illegal decisions and quickly return to the path of constitutionalism in the interest of lasting democracy in the country.

“However, if the Senate remains intransigent, the executive arm of the government should adopt decisive measures to terminate the reign of impunity in the National Assembly.”

Falana insisted that by the virtue of section 171 (1) (d) of the constitution, President Muhammadu Buhari had the power to retain Mr. Ibrahim Magu in acting capacity as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, even after Magu’s nomination for the substantive position had been rejected by the Senate.

He said that instead of approaching the court to ventilate its grievances, the Senate resorted to blackmail by refusing to screen the 27 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners until Magu had been removed from office.

He said the action of the Senate amounted to throwing caution into the wind.

Falana said, “The decision of the President cannot be faulted by the virtue of section 171 (1) (d) of the constitution, which provides that the President is vested with the power to appoint the head of any extra-ministerial department to hold office in an acting capacity. Such an appointment does not require the confirmation of the Senate.

“Completely aggrieved by the decision of the President to exercise his constitutional powers in the circumstance, the Senate has decided not to confirm the 27 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners until Mr. Magu has been removed from office as EFCC Chairman.

“In asking for the removal of Mr. Magu, the Senate said that the anti-graft czar has been terrorising the Senate. Should the Senate resort to such cheap blackmail?”