The Senate has scheduled for debate and investigation allegations of human rights and constitutional violations by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The recent enactment of the controversial Executive Order No. 006 as a legislation, which permits security agencies to freeze assets of persons standing trial without recourse to the court, is one of the matters to be debated.
Another issue raised in a motion that compelled the debate is the continuous detention of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), for over two years in total disregard of four court orders, including that of the ECOWAS Court which granted him bail pending his trial over alleged money laundering charges.
The motion by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, David Umaru, tagged “Alarming rise in cases of alleged human rights violations and consistent assault on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by the Executive” was the first in the Senate Order Paper for yesterday’s proceeding.
However, the absence from chamber of Umaru, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Niger State, caused delay in the commencement of debate on the issues.
Acting Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’allah, said the chamber would commence debate on the motion whenever Umaru is around.
A key prayer of the motion is that the Federal Government should urgently investigate all cases of human rights abuse allegedly committed by the police, Nigerian Army and other security agencies in the course of discharging their duties, with a view to identifying the culprits and victims and offering redress where necessary.
The motion is also asking the Senate to summon the Attorney -General and Minister of Justice. Alhaji Abubakar Malami, to appear before it to “explain the constitutional basis for the controversial Executive Order No. 006 and the other executive orders which have been issued by the President in clear usurpation of the law making functions of the National Assembly.”
In the motion, the Federal Government is being urged to demonstrate practical commitment to the observance of the rule of law, especially in ensuring obedience to court orders and following due process in fulfillment of its constitutional obligation.
In the motion, Umaru said: “in the last few years, Nigeria’s democratic credentials have become questionable as a result of the alarming cases of alleged state-inspired human rights violations and consistent constitutional infractions perpetrated by agencies of government
“It is alarming that in the recent past, allegations abound that the executive has not only consistently violated the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens, particularly the rights to dignity of human person and right to personal liberty as guaranteed under section 34 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, but also infringed on the constitution in several ways.
“Notable instances of such human rights violations are well documented by the Human Rights Watch and other reputable human rights organizations.”
The motion described as worrisome the alleged “lack of accountability for human rights violations by security agencies and militant elements, including armed herdsmen; heavy-handed violent responses to peaceful protests as exemplified by previous crackdown on agitators for the Independent State of Biafra (IPOB) and the recent violent clashes between the police and suspected members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMM) who were protesting the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaki, in Abuja and Kaduna.”
Umaru lamented the “Gradual descent of the country into anarchy and despotism as a result of indiscriminate arrests, unconstitutional detention of citizens under questionable circumstances as was the fate of the Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who was whisked away by a detachment of Directorate of State Services (DSS) personnel while attending a function at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and later kept incommunicado at a detention facility for five days.”
According to the motion, it has become highly alarming that “Nigeria’s democracy is also being threatened by deliberate and sustained executive assault on the constitution as exemplified by some recent actions of the executive arm of government.
It narrated such actions as “inadequate security protection for courts which has indirectly undermined the independence of judiciary and exposed many judicial officers to violent attacks as was recently witnessed in Rivers State when some armed bandits, in an attempt to overawe court officials, stormed the Rivers State Judiciary Complex and maimed several people and killing several others.
“Release of the $496 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the purchase of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States government without prior approval by the National Assembly” was also listed as one of the actions by the executive taken in direct contravention of section 80 of the 1999 Constitution.