Some members of the Senate have asked that the process to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari be started, for failing to get the approval for the withdrawal of $496m from the Excess Crude Account to purchase military aircraft.
Senator Mathew Uroghide, who moved a motion at the plenary on Thursday, specifically urged the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, to allow the chamber to invoke Section 143 of the Constitution.
Uroghide stated that the President had breached Section 80 of the Constitution which stipulates that all government’s spending must be appropriated by the legislature.
Also, Senator Chukwuka Utazi stated that it was time for the legislature to be decisive.
Saraki had on Wednesday read a letter from Buhari in which the President disclosed that the money had been withdrawn and paid to the United States for the 12 Super Tucano aircraft, ahead of legislative approval. This, he said, was done to beat the deadline for the arms deal.
The planes will be delivered in 2020.
The President said, “Recently, approval was granted by the United States government but with a deadline, within which part payment must be made otherwise the contract relapses. In the expectation that the National Assembly will have no objection to the purchase of these highly specialised aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of $496,374,470. This was paid directly into the treasury of the United States government.
“I am therefore writing seeking approval of the Senate for the sum of $496,374,470 (equivalent to N151,394, 421,035) to be included in the 2018 Appropriation Bill which the National Assembly is currently finalising. The balance of the requirement for critical operational equipment is still being collated from the different security services and will be presented in the form of a supplementary appropriation bill in due cause.”
Senator Shehu Sani has described the expenditure as “a gross abuse of the Constitution.”
While Sani stated that he was not in support of the impeachment call, he asked that the money should be refunded and the transaction started afresh to allow due process.
Senator Abu Ibrahim, however, recalled that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan made withdrawals from the ECA without seeking National Assembly’s approval.
Describing the impeachment as “a PDP conspiracy,” Ibrahim challenged the opposition lawmakers to name any state governor who benefited from the withdrawals from the ECA and sought the approval of the state House of Assembly before spending the money.