Wednesday, August 8, 2018 6:42 pm
Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, says the parliament is ready to reconvene if there are pressing national issues requiring the legislature’s attention.
Saraki said this while fielding questions from journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
There have been calls from the presidency for the assembly to reconvene to approve funds for the 2019 general elections as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari on July 24.
The presidency is also saying that there other urgent matters needing the lawmakers’ attention, which if not treated, could affect the country adversely.
The assembly commenced its annual recess on July 24 to resume on Sept. 25 in line with its calendar.
Saraki, however, said it was difficult to understand why the nation would shutdown because the National Assembly was on recess.
He said that the assembly adjourned two days before the scheduled date but ensured that the Electoral Bill was passed.
Saraki said that the bill was the only pending issue before the assembly and that it was passed before the lawmakers commenced recess.
On the request for more funds for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), he said it was amazing that people were not asking what INEC was doing that they did not submit their request until the lawmakers embarked on recess.
He said from January through June, the lawmakers were on ground and that nobody from the Executive made any request of additional funds for the INEC.
Saraki said that in the interest of the country, the leadership of the assembly would meet with INEC “and if there is need to reconvene, the legislators will”.
According to him, the plan of the assembly before security agents barricaded its entrance on Tuesday, preventing it from holding a meeting was to the urgent issues.
He said that the assembly “wants free and fair elections and allegations claiming that the institution is trying to sabotage INEC are not true”.
On the blockade at the Assembly Complex, Saraki said it was at times like that that the legislature played its role in fighting for democracy and the rule of law.
He said the assembly would continue to ensure that security agencies played their roles which were “to protect us and not to attack us”.
The president of the Senate said in cases where security agents went out of the ambits of the law, the legislature would take necessary actions that would ensure that they were called to order.
“This is why I commend the acting President for what he did. That action is long overdue; not just the DSS DG, a lot of the security agencies are doing things that are not in line with the Constitution.
“Several times we have summoned heads of security agencies to appear before the National Assembly in line with the Constitution, but they do not.
“They should be sanctioned in the same way the DSS DG has been sanctioned. In Benue, security agents escorted eight members of the State House of Assembly to impeach the Governor, aiding illegality.
“The Executive knows what to do; we are saying that any security agency that acts against democracy should be sanctioned similarly and that is our position,” he said.
On the absence of All Progressive Congress (APC) lawmakers at the complex at the time of the siege, Saraki said that lawmakers who arrived the complex in the morning and were denied access were told that there was a list of legislators that would be let in.
He alleged that the plan was to only allow certain APC senator to gain access, adding that that was why those whose names were not on the list were denied access.
Saraki explained that the reason the APC legislators were not on ground in the morning was because they were holding a meeting somewhere else before coming to the complex.
He said the meeting was inconclusive and it was adjourned to 11.a.m, adding that if they had concluded, they would have been at the complex.
Saraki said that members of other parties heard of the plot and decided to all turn up at the complex and that that was the reason APC lawmakers were not on ground.
“We must protect this democracy, we must ensure the rule of law; if anybody is to impeached, the process in the constitution must be followed.
“If you have the numbers, go ahead and do it but if you do not have the numbers as required by the Constitution, do not turn us into a banana republic, Nigeria has passed that, we want a country everybody would be proud of,” Saraki added.