Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, said yesterday the National Assembly lacks the constitutional powers to summon President Muhammadu Buhari over worsening security situation in the country.
The House of Representatives had, in the wake of the killing of 43 rice farmers at Zabarmari, Borno State, by Boko Haram, summoned the President to appear before a joint session of the National Assembly to give explanations on the security situation in the country.
But the AGF in a statement he personally signed in Abuja, said the right of the President to engage the NASS and appear before it “is inherently discretionary.”
He argued that NASS has no constitutional powers to envisage or contemplate a situation where the President would be summoned to explain operational use of the Armed Forces.
Malami insisted that President Buhari “has recorded tremendous success in containing the hitherto incessant bombing, colossal killings, wanton destruction of lives and property that bedeviled the country before assuming power in 2015.”
He said: “The confidentiality of strategies employed by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not open for public exposure, in view of security implications and not to undermine the war against terror.
“The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was instrumental to the reclaiming of over 14 local governments previously controlled by Boko Haram in the North-East is an open secret, the strategies for such achievement are not open for public expose.”
While condoling the bereaved and sympathizing with the victims of the associated insecurity in the country, Malami maintained that national security was not about publicity.
According to him, the nation’s security architecture cannot be exposed for the sake of getting publicity.
“Mr. President has constitutional privileges attached to the Office of the President, including confidentiality in security operational matters,” he said.
The AGF contended that President Buhari has the right to decide whether or not he would appear before the legislative arm of the government, adding that such appearance would not be at the behest of the National Assembly.
He said: “The management and control of the security sector is exclusively vested in the President by Section 218 (1) of the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, including the power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces.
“An invitation that seeks to put the operational use of the Armed Forces to a public interrogation is indeed taking the constitutional rights of law making beyond bounds.
“As the Commander-in-Chief, the President has exclusivity on security and has confidentiality over security.
“These powers and rights he does not share. So, by summoning the President on national security operational matters, the House of Representative operated outside constitutional bounds.
“President’s exclusivity of constitutional confidentiality investiture within the context of the constitution remains sacrosanct.”