Elders and leaders from the Middle Belt, South South, South West and Southern Leaders’ Forum rose from a joint meeting in Abuja yesterday with a charge on the National Assembly to immediately sanction President Muhammadu Buhari for withdrawing $462 million from the nation’s Excess Crude Account for the purchase of warplanes without parliamentary approval.
The leaders took the position at the end of a meeting held at the private residence of Edwin Clark in Abuja.Elder statesman and former Federal Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark, who hosted the meeting, spoke on behalf of South South leaders, while Ayo Adebanjo spoke on behalf of Afenifere just as John Nnia Nwodo spoke on behalf of the South East, and Bala Takaya on behalf of North Central leaders.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum also urged the National Assembly to do the needful as well as call on the U. S. Government to return the money paid to its treasury as its payment was not authorized
Addressing journalists after the meeting, President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nwodo, who read the prepared text on behalf of others, said the action of President Buhari is a clear violation of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
The communique reads in part: “It is with shock that we note the flagrant violation of the Constitution by the president by paying a whopping sum of $496 million to the U.S. for the purchase of Tucano Aircrafts.
“Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution is very clear on how the president could spend Nigerian’s fund. The provision states; “No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
“As it is, the president has violated the provision of the highest law in the land. Nigeria is a Republic founded on rule of law, where each arm of government is bound to be guided by the dictates of the constitution, this flagrant violation and unapproved spending must be curtailed as well as sanctioned. “We therefore call on the National Assembly to do the needful as well as call on the United States Government to return the money paid to its treasury as the money paid is not authorised.”
The leaders also called on Nigerians to defend themselves in the midst of killings by alleged Fulani herdsmen in many parts of North Central states and southern Nigeria.
Nwodo said: “The right to legitimate self-defence is a fundamental human right. It is a well-established norm in municipal and International Law that any group of people that faces an existential threat to its very survival has right to legitimate self-defence.
“Section 33 of our 1999 Constitution accords the right to legitimate self-defence as a Constitutional right of all citizens. In the case of the Unites States of America, they have carried it to the extent that the right to self-defence and even pre-emptive self-defence is a fundamental right of all Americans.
“Natural Law, Just War Theory, and International Law and Ethics, equally recognises the right of all peoples to defend themselves against violation of their lives and those of their families and communities. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter authorises people whose existence is threatened to defend themselves. We, therefore, support General T. Y. Danjuma; he said the obvious.
“Indeed, two illustrious legal luminaries, Professors Itse Sagay and B. O. Nwabueze, have upheld general Danjuma’s assertion on purely legal grounds.“The continuous spate of killing of innocent citizens of Nigeria especially from the Middle Belt is totally unacceptable. More disturbing is the ever increasing evidence that our Military and Police Forces are compromised in the manner they have conducted themselves by aiding and abetting the herdsmen.”
“In the circumstance, we are left with no alternative than to call on Nigerians to employ self-defence as permissible in law when any citizen is faced with the risk of imminent death in the circumstances we find ourselves now.“We also call on the Police Service Commission to immediately deploy Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to their places of origin for a more effective policing, while we await state police.”