Lawmakers want Buhari impeached for spending $496m on jets without approval

Some members of the house of representatives have called for President Muhammadu Buhari’s impeachment for approving the withdrawal of the sum of $496 million without their nod.

This follows a letter which Buhari wrote to the house on Tuesday, defending his approval of the money used for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the US.

The money was said to have been withdrawn from the excess crude account (ECA).

In a letter written to the national assembly, Buhari said he had anticipated the lawmakers will approve the withdrawal.

Reading the contents of the letter during plenary on Monday, Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house, quoted Buhari as saying: “In the expectation that the national assembly would have no objection to the purchase of this highly specialized aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of US$496,374,470.00.”

He said the letter was sent to the leadership of the national assembly on April 13 and was received by his (speaker’s) office on April 17.

The development angered the lawmakers who accused the president of “overriding” their powers.

Their deliberation on the matter followed a constitutional point of order raised by Kingsley Chinda, from Rivers state.

Citing sections 80 and 81 of 1999 constitution, Chinda said the Nigerian law does not recognise anticipatory approval.

He condemned the approval, wondering what would happen if the lawmakers fail to approve the money.

“There is nowhere in our law that talked about anticipatory approval. We cannot sit down and allow this to take place. It is an impeachable offence. There is no infraction that is worse than this. Let us not continue to sleep. I propose that we commence the impeachment of Mr President,” he said.

Some other lawmakers who also contributed to the motion supported the impeachment move, accusing the president of seeking their approval through the back door.

Sunday Karimi from Kogi said the lawmakers should write the president and inform him he has breached the constitution and “he should be prepared to face the consequences.”

“This is the time to tell the president that we were elected to serve the people,” he added.

However, Emmanuel Orker-Jev, chairman of the house committee on rules and businesses, said going by the house rules, Buhari’s letter ought to be slated for the second reading before the house could debate it.

Thereafter, Dogara said the matter would be slated for the second reading on a date during which “we can decide on what to do”.

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