ICYMI: Melaye tackles Buhari as Saraki faults politicking by Customs boss

By Editor on 01/06/2018

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Melaye
Melaye

The lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, maintained his seat at the Peoples Democratic Party section in the chamber. He relocated to the seat on Wednesday in spite of being a member of the All Progressives Congress.

Melaye also raised a point of order to describe President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent comments on the National Assembly as against his personal privilege as a member.

The President had penultimate Tuesday attacked the National Assembly members at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while receiving members of the Buhari Support Organisation led by the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.).

Buhari had said, “Let anybody come and confront me publicly in the National Assembly. What have they been doing? Some of them have been there for 10 years. What have they been doing?”

Melaye alleged that the President’s body language towards the National Assembly was the reason why the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies often refused to answer invitations by the lawmakers.

He described Buhari’s comments as derogatory and unparliamentary, asking the President to apologise to the National Assembly.

Melaye said, “As a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who came to the National Assembly in 2007 – about 11 years ago, I am particularly unhappy and my privilege was abused by President Muhammadu Buhari last week.

“Last week, the President, in the Villa, addressed the delegation of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, and this was televised on Channels TV. The President said he didn’t know what we were doing in the National Assembly. He said that some of us had been in the National Assembly for over 10 years and we had nothing to show for it.

“I felt that this statement is not only unpresidential but it is an assault on my person and the institution of the National Assembly where I am proudly a member. Such derogatory statements and insult on the National Assembly should not be allowed to go unnoticed.”

Melaye added, “One then begins not to wonder why we summoned the IG and he refused to come. We are not surprised why directors-general of parastatals and heads of agencies will refuse to honour the summons of the National Assembly. The body language and the statement of the President are already demeaning the integrity of the National Assembly.”

The lawmaker also faulted Ali for leading an electoral campaign for the President’s re-election in spite of being a public officer. He stressed that the Comptroller-General of the NCS is a rank and the occupant of the office should be in uniform.

He said, “The Comptroller-General of the Customs is a rank, and the Customs Service is a paramilitary organisation, and if the Comptroller-General of the Customs will be leading the Buhari Campaign Organisation, it is an aberration and against his oath of office.

“When he took his oath of office, the Constitution was very clear. We all swore that our personal interests will not conflict with our official responsibilities and duties. It is an aberration, it is unconstitutional, it is undemocratic for a paramilitary organisation headed by a Comptroller-General to lead a campaign organisation to the President, and they were welcome.”

Melaye further said, “We must, as a Senate, take a strong decision to protect our institutions. We are creating great men when we are supposed to be creating great institutions. The statement of the President and the reason for allowing these people to make this type of political affiliation despite their offices are reducing these institutions. And our responsibility as a Senate is to protect, build and preserve these institutions.”

The senator noted that Buhari had signed the Jungle Justice Bill he sponsored into law, while two other bills from him were waiting for the President’s assent.

Melaye stressed, “In these 10 years, we have passed budgets. Even the fight against corruption that is the cardinal objective of this administration; the EFCC and the ICPC are products of our labour in this National Assembly. They were instituted as a result of our enactment. The National Assembly has been carrying out its functions in accordance with the provision of the Constitution and all our extant laws.

“I want to call that Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, for using this unparliamentary and unconstitutional language on the National Assembly, should apologise to the National Assembly. That is where most of his appointees draw inspiration from and that is why they disregard the National Assembly and even refuse to accept summons.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, ruled that the lawmakers would not allow political activities by public officials. He, however, said Buhari might have been misquoted.

Saraki said, “The President might have been misquoted to say that. We should not rush to come to the conclusion. We all agree that this institution is an institution that we must all protect at any given time.

“The agencies that continue to participate in politics as well, we must caution them because I believe that we are not helping the institutions. Those institutions know that they have a role to play and as such, they must not be seen to be doing things like that.”

 

Posted 01/06/2018 9:30:56 PM

 

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