Senate lacks powers to ‘summon’ Sagay — SERAP

Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption
Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the leadership of the Senate to “immediately withdraw the unwarranted and unconstitutional ‘summon’” for Itse Sagay, chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption to appear before the Senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions for reportedly describing the body as “childish and irresponsible” and one “filled by people of questionable character”

SERAP in a statement Thursday signed by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said, “the Senate’s decision to summon Professor Sagay simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression is arbitrary, a travesty, mala-fide, and cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

The statement read in part: “The Senate is not immune from constitutional control simply because it’s a law-making body. In fact, the Senate has neither special immunity from the operation of the constitution nor special privilege to invade the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to freedom of expression of Professor Sagay or other citizens for that matter.”

“The framers of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) would never have contemplated a legislative power without responsibility, and the Senate can’t continue to carry on in a manner that implies its law-making and oversight powers are not open to question. Therefore, its powers under the constitution ought to be exercised reasonably and responsibly, consistent with the fundamental notions of peace, order, good governance and the public interest.”

“The human rights of Nigerians are secured against not only executive lawlessness but also legislative excesses. To trample on citizens’ freedom of expression is to thwart the ideals of representative democracy and the rule of law.”

Mr. Sagay’s comment was a reaction to the Senate’s refusal to proceed with confirmation of 27 persons President Muhammadu Buhari nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioners.

The lawmakers stopped the confirmation in protest against the refusal of the President to sack Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite his repeated rejection by the Senate.

SERAP said, “The National Assembly is constitutionally empowered to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Nigeria but recent events in the Senate would seem to stir the public anger. It seems curious that the Senate will be giving a raw deal to the heads of the two leading anti-corruption bodies in the country—Ibrahim Magu of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Itse Sagay of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.”

“All public institutions and figures are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition. The Senate in particular and the National Assembly as a whole would do well to respect the inherent rights of Nigerians that are so fundamental to our constitutional structure. Democracy, constitutional supremacy, and the rule of law require no less. Indeed, no principle is more basic to any proper system of law than the maintenance of the rule of law itself”.


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  • Dokita Omowe

    DEAR EDITOR,

    Professor Itse Sagay is wrong on all points of law

    Professor Itse Sagay is wrong on all points of law.
    Insofar as libel and slander are within the jurisdiction of the Senate; Professor Sagay may be summoned
    by the Senate. The power of the Senate to conduct a hearing on the sui generis ground of CONTEMPT
    is exclusively within the power of the Senate. No court can grant injunction against exercise of the power
    of Senate to conduct a hearing to determine if Professor Sagay has committed contempt of parliament.

    • abu Saleh

      The rationale is very simple, what he said was true. They are behaving like children with access to a sledge hammer. To them, everything is a nail… How else can you explain the childish obsession with a ‘uniform’ rather than the performance of a person..what are they so hell-bent on forcing magu out ‘so as to save the president’s anti- corruption campaign’… I’m also curious as to why they never asked magu to appear in uniform (or is he no longer a police officer)… These guys are just a bunch of spoilt ignorant kids…(who publicly celebrate graduating with 3rd class degrees) as if it’s a monumental achievement. Please someone should fix PDP, we deserve a better opposition than the one we have now (this childish senate). God bless Nigeria.

      • thusspokez

        You are using emotional argument in place of rational and constitutional arguments.

        • Skytop Tech

          What is constitutional when the senators have decided to over-heat the polity because of their selfish interest that have no direct benefits to the masses.

  • Of course, Prof Sagay has constitutional rights to freedom of expression. Therefore, SERAP was smart to pull the rights clause. What happen to the constitutional rights of those citizens locked up in jails without bails or trials by this administration in spite of court injunctions?

  • thusspokez

    Irrespective of how one sees the current crops of Nigerian senators, one must not overlook the fact that the senate is an important democratic institution, and will outlast all of us. So disrespecting it amounts to undermine democracy, and by extension, Nigeria.

    For Itse Sagay who is a law professor to claim that the Senate lacks powers to invite him for a chat, is simply being ignorant of the Constitution or talking without thinking.

    One might question the motives of the members of the Saraki crime family [aka Nigerian Senators], but it is not a sufficient
    reason to disrespect the institution of the Senate — which is different from the senators or its current occupants.

    Senators have rights to order any Nigeria resident to appear before them but they can’t order anyone to answer their questions or speak, which is one tactic that Itse Sagay could use — the equivalent of ‘taking the 5th’ in the USA.

    • dapo

      That means you know more than Itself Sagay because you are Senate lawyer. They left their reasonable responsibilities and face irrelevant things that won’t benefit populace of Nigeria.
      Sagay entitles to his own opinion and more so, government don’t allocate money to his committee compare to useless, lunatic and moron people you called Senators that collecting over #100 billion and still not satisfy.
      If they have right to order anyone and the person refuses to go, you as their lawyer you can go to court for them.

      • thusspokez

        A lot of you are mixing two separate albeit related issues and allowing your emotion to override your thinking processes. Try, if you can, to separate (1) the Senate as a democratic institution from (2) the crooked Senators who are the current occupants.

        The same thinking applies to your tradition leaders or chief, you might not like who is currently in the seat but, you are still bound (by tradition) to respect the office or chieftaincy.

        • Skytop Tech

          They have insulted the president and criticized him several times especially during the 2016 appropriation bill. Though the three arms of government have powers to operate independently, the powers of the executive outweighs that of the legislatures because the executive have the powers to implement the laws, but Buhari has never summoned the senate for insulting him rather he has chosen to be a father to all. It is obvious, the senate has no good leadership.

    • Gbola

      Please open the constitution and point us to where it says that the Senate cannot be abused or insulted by citizens.

      In other words, are you supporting a call for a reintroduction of Decree 4 ??

      • thusspokez

        Please open the constitution…

        Please download the Nigerian Constitution online and point us to where it says that the Senate has no powers to summon Itse Sagay?

        In other words, are you supporting a call to undermine the Nigerian Constitution and, by extension, its democracy?

        • Gbola

          The Senate CANNOT summon ordinary citizens.

          Stop showcasing yourself here bro.

          And if you were to even move past this, can the Senate summon a private citizen based on that citizen insulting them ??

          Doesn’t that fall under FREEDOM OF SPEECH ??

          Didnt this same senate (Dino) insult president Buhari ??
          Wasn’t that his freedom of speech to do so ??

          Moving across the ocean to America where they also practice the presidential system of government, do you know how often the media bash either the president or Senate there ??

          When did you ever hear of the Congress summoning a private citizen ??

          Their power to summon as detailed in section 89 includes a clause.

          Shine your eyes bro.
          Go and read that clause one more time.

        • Skytop Tech

          JAMB Bill could not be passed, the law for the ease of doing business is still there, and several important laws are still suffering at the flour of the National Assembly but these people go about disrespecting themselves through unnecessary summons like ‘school boys’ .Nigerians should be thinking of occupying the National Assembly for real.

    • Contact Point

      The Senate as an Institution is an important and integral democratic institution you are right but not with the crop of bunch of comedians presently occupying that hallowed chamber, and institution that should be the pride and proud of all Nigerians. They are worse than “childish and irresponsible” as described by Prof. Sagay.

  • God dey

    Sagay should just ignore this bunch of legislooters feeding on our N100 bn every year. Bunch of “tragic-comedians”. What a joke of a wasted generation. Nigerians will have nothing good to say about their generation.

    • thusspokez

      “What a joke of a wasted generation” is not an argument. Give us a rational/constitutional argument.

      • God dey

        SERAP has eloquently advanced the arguments, to which I fully susbscribe. In short, the bunch of legislooters have no power to summon anyone on issues not linked with law-making. N100bn a year wasted!

  • sammyctu ode

    My fellow Nigerians this is the schedule of the criminals called senators:
    They wake up at 9am
    They come to d Senate chambers at 12pm
    They sit for 2 hours
    By 2pm they have closed shop
    By 3pm they take their various concubines and young girlfriends to lunch till 5pm
    By 6pm they attend various cactus meetings till 1am of how to paddle budgets, of how to plot to rig d next elections, of how to defraud Nigeria
    By 2am they romp with their girlfriend’s till 5am
    By 6am they go to bed and sleep for 4hrs then prepare to go to their offices again
    What I’m saying is that they never have anytime to read legislative agendas and briefings which is why you see them reading nothing during d Senate hours, their mobiles always with them to check for ALERTS from various illegal businesses. During the weekends they prowl the houses of thousands of directors of MDAs to close contract deals after which they travel to their states to look for more contracts and take turns sleeping with different concubines thereby spreading STDs HIV/AIDS which is why many of them have slumped at d Senate chambers. Also on weekends they join their states politicians for cult activities deep into d forests to drink human bloods, during religious festivals they stay home expecting rams, chickens & turkeys from shady people of like minds. Nigerian senators are d least productive of any worker in d world which is why they hardly pass any law that will benefit Nigerians. SHAMELESS CORRUPT CRIMINALS.

    • systematic

      u make a point

  • ndababa

    This Senate has lost respect since time immemorial. They should bury their head in shame for dabbling into issues that later exposes their level of incompetence.

  • Amir

    Senate should summon Obasanjo for calling them thieves.