The House of Representatives on Thursday, declined to take presentations from representatives of Nigeria’s Service Chiefs who were billed to appear in the chamber for the commencement of a policy brief series aimed at redefining the concept of governance in the country.
The PUNCH reports that the series tagged “Sectoral debate” is part of initiatives by the Speaker Tajudeen Abbas -led House to improve its constitutional oversight of the executive arm of government, in line with the Legislative Agenda for the 10th Assembly launched on Monday.
Invited to take the floor on Thursday, were the Service Chiefs which is made up of the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and the Inspector General of Police.
However, rather than appearing in person, the Service Chiefs sent representatives; a development that infuriated the lawmakers who arrived at the Chambers in the early hours of the day for the exercise.
Shortly after introducing themselves, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, via a Point of Order, drew the attention of the lawmakers to the fact that the Service Chiefs were invited to appear in person and not in proxy.
Addressing his colleagues at the plenary session which had representatives of the Service Chiefs in attendance, Kalu who represents Bende Federal Constituency, Abia State said, “I rise on a Constitutional Point of Order! Sections 88 and 89 of the Nigerian Constitution empower the House to invite anybody in person.
“The House extended invitations to Heads of Security agencies not for the purposes of investigations but for dialogue and establishing the things around security. It behoves the agencies to send their number one officers because the parliament is the number one parliament of government.
“The gentlemen they have sent have great profiles. They have served the nation in various capacities and are competent to discuss with us but the mistake based on the provisions of Sections 88 and 89, has not been satisfied. One may ask why their number one officers have not appeared before the House.
“It has been the tradition of the House that when leaders are invited, be they from public or private sectors, they must appear in persons. I want to say that we should not create separate traditions for our House.
“I therefore move that this sectoral engagement be suspended until the leaders of the security agencies that we invited who are our friends, who are working for Nigeria, who we are proud of, come to address us personally.”
Speaking after the plenary, House spokesman and Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Akin Rotimi said, “Members unanimously agreed that we cannot be taking presentations from persons who are not heads of security agencies at a time we are finding solutions to the security challenges affecting all of us.”
Sustaining both the order and the motion, Abbas sent the guests away and urged them to inform their principals to appear before the House on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, for the commencement of the debates.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Taoreed Lagbaja; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Hassan Abubakar, Chief of Defence Staff, Maj Gen Christopher Musa as well as the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun are expected to appear on Tuesday during the plenary session of the House.