The House of Representatives has resolved to temporarily back down on the move to commence impeachment proceedings against President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that some of the lawmakers had earlier called for the impeachment of the president for approving the release of $496 million for the purchase of some fighter jets without consulting the national assembly.
At plenary on Thursday, the lawmakers reached a compromise and decided that rather than initiating impeachment proceedings against the president, the Committee on Rules and Business should look for a way to resolve the matter.
At first, the house was divided along party lines, as most members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the spending was illegal and unconstitutional.
A letter from Buhari seeking the approval of the lawmakers to the expenditure after it had been made was introduced on Thursday.
Muhammed Monguno from Borno State then moved a motion entitled: ‘Request to include the sum of US$496 in the 2018 Appropriation Bill for the purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft from the US government’.
Monguno urged the house to include the money in the 2018 budget as “the president’s anticipatory approval was granted based on the critical importance of the aircraft to national security”.
The motion was immediately countered by Nicholas Ossai, a PDP lawmaker from Delta State. Raising a point of order, Ossai argued that the request ought to come in form of a bill, not a motion.
Supporting Ossai’s claim, Lovett Idisi, another PDP lawmaker from Delta, said: “What we are being asked is to indict the house, if there is an illegal process, we cannot correct it with illegality. This process goes against everything we stand for.”
But Munir Danagundi, an APC lawmaker from Kano, said the president “committed no sin.”
He said: “I did not see any sin that has been committed, section 82 of the constitution says ‘the appropriation bill in respect of any financial year has not been passed into law by the beginning of the financial year, the president may authorise the withdrawal of moneys in the consolidated revenue fund of the federation for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the government of the federation for a period not exceeding months or until the coming into operation of the Appropriate Act, whichever is the earlier’ so the president has done nothing wrong.”
Some lawmakers mostly in the PDP immediately kicked against Danagundi’s claim, accusing him of being sentimental.
But Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House, called for calm and said the matter should be transparently addressed.
“I don’t think as a matter of law there is straight answer to this question,” he said.
“There are people out there looking at us, waiting for what we will do, we have to look carefully to see if what we are doing is constitutional or not, and in the national interest.”
Thereafter, he ruled that the House Committee on Rules and Business should look at the matter and advise the house on the appropriate steps to take.