Jonathan: The Senate is Wrong.

No Comments » February 14th, 2010 posted by // Categories: General Articles

Jonathan: The Senate is Wrong.

I am not a lawyer but I know there is a violation of the constitution by the Senate. The National Assembly has by this resolution manifested the most cowardly instinct ever, in their so-called ‘resolution’ empowering the Vice President to act as ‘Acting President’.

It should be stated straightaway that such a resolution is unknown to the 1999 Constitution. It is a bizarre invention of the Legislators who appear to be more interested their future political careers than the deepening of constitutional democracy in the country.

The Senate cannot give what they don’t have. It is not in their power to donate the Presidency to anybody. The National assembly is empowered to review the Constitution but it is not permitted to make any law that voids the provisions of the Constitution.

The Constitution does not place the burden of its interpretation on the National Assembly. It is therefore wrong for the senate to constitute itself into a court of law and begin to interpret section 145 of the constitution in the most bizarre of manners. If the Senate did not understand the import of that section, they should have asked the courts to help them. In any case the Court has already ruled unequivocally that the VP cannot become AP until the President Informs the National assembly through a ‘letter’. What therefore the Senate did on Tuesday is nothing but usurpation of the powers of the Judiciary. Its amounts to gross contempt of the court.

Section 145 of the 1999 constitution upon which the two chambers claimed to rely in passing such a resolution does not require any action from the National Assembly by way of a resolution or declaration of any sort. Once a transmittal is received by the NA, the VP Automatically becomes an Acting President. In order words the letter contemplated in section 145 is sent to the Senate for their information and not for their action. That the Senate needed to debate whether such a letter has been transmitted to them in itself indicates that there was no such letter; and to claim that an interview granted by Yar’Adua to BCC could be taken in lieu of a written letter is not just devious but outright scandalous.

The Senator’s lied. If indeed the Senate believes section 145 has been complied with by Yar’Adua through the BCC interview and that indeed this is an acceptable way to apply that section, then why are they planning to review the section? One should expect that if they believe their interpretation is sound, then there should really be no need to review that section of the constitution.

Now, suppose Yar’Adua grants another Interview with BCC stating that he is no longer receiving treatment and that he is able to resume his duties(while still in Saudi Arabia) would the Senate rescind their ‘resolution’? 

If indeed the Senators have respect for the laws they are empowered to make, they would have bothered about a thoughtful and rigorous application of the constitution to the letter. It sends a very wrong signal to the psyche of Nigerians that the constitution is just a symbolic document that can be ignored at will while hiding under any available and convenient excuse.

Why do we prefer to take short-cuts in everything we do as a nation? Why not go the whole hug and impeach the President if indeed they believe there is a gross violation of the constitution by his refusal to hand over to Jonathan?

That the Senate allowed itself to be stampeded into making this spineless move tells a lot on the quality of leadership or lack of it in the National Assembly. This supposedly ‘compromise position’ as many have dubbed it is not really aimed at strengthening democracy but indeed it’s a cowardly self preservation act of sitting on the fence in order to be in the good books of the Vice president (should he become President) and the President (if he comes back alive).

I urge some patriotic lawyers to take up this matter in the courts and correct this anomaly for posterity sake.


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