By Nelson Ekujumi
Sequel to his non appearance on Wednesday 22nd March, 2017, in response to the senate summons that he should appear in his official uniform, the Nigerian Senate in plenary called on the Comptroller General (CG) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) to resign from office because according to them, by not appearing before the house in uniform, the CGC was unfit to hold public office.One recollects that despite being turned back last week Wednesday for disobeying the Senate’s illegal and unconstitutional directive to adorn his official uniform, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) educated and admonished members of the Senate to seek legal advise on the constitutionality of their action with regards to his being compelled to wear the uniform because of their status as lawmakers who ought to know that their actions should be guided by the law which is their primary responsibility to make for the good of the society.
However despite being availed this patriotic and unsolicited advise from the Customs Service Comptroller General and being intimated by the CG that the basis of its summons for his appearance before the house is the subject of a legal suit, therefore, based on legal advise including from the office of the Attorney General and Minister of justice, he won’t be able to honour the senate summons in order not to run foul of the provisions of the law, but like the proverbial dog which is destined to be lost will be deaf to the whistle of the hunter, the Senate did not disappoint Nigerians with its grandstanding of a call which is a mockery of legislative responsibility.
Ordinarily, one expected a responsible and focused Senate, in view of the latest development to have done the needful of suspending its summons till after the determination of the suit, in obeisance to its rules which forbids debates or discussion on any issue on the floor of the house which is before the law court, because it amounts to subjudice, but not the 8th session of the Nigerian Senate .
Quite expectedly, the Senate knowing fully well that its grandstanding, rascality and illegality with regards to its “You must appear before the house in uniform” directive to the CGC had been punctured by the latest development of the law suit and instead of doing the needful of suspending its appearance summons and redeeming its image, further exposed our democracy and the integrity of the legislature to public opprobrium by its latest act which qualifies to be called legislative impunity.
Before now, one had warned the senate to be conscious of the fact that Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy in which the functions and responsibility of the three arms of government are clearly spelt out in black and white. As lawmakers, one expected them to know their constitutional limits and not usurp the functions of other arms of government in the exercise of their legislative responsibility in whatever form, but unfortunately, reverse is the case.
The legislature as the bastion of democracy is a hallowed chamber which demands utmost integrity, discipline and responsibility in utterances and actions whether as individuals or collectively as a body and not the kind of crudity, bullying, illegality and comedy show that Nigerians have been repeatedly treated to by this Senate which by its actions is unrepresentative of the Nigerian people by assaulting their sensibility.
In view of the fact that the constitution is the Grundnorm of the Nigerian state, which the actions of institutions and citizens must conform with, may we as democrats and advocates of the rule of law ask our “distinguished” members of the Senate to inform Nigerians, where in the constitution, they derive the powers to call for the resignation of a public officer who declines to be an accomplice in their illegality and irresponsibility of disobeying their own rules and undermining democracy by contempt for other arms of government?
If this call for the resignation of the Controller General of the Nigeria Customs Service by the Senate based on his non appearance in order not to run foul of the law through contempt of court has no constitutional backing, then the senate has once again embarked on legislative impunity which is uncivilized, reckless, irresponsible and condemnable.
Nelson Ekujumi wrote this piece from Lagos.