Posted by By Rotimi Ajayi, Ben Agande on
THE House of Representatives resolved, yesterday, to take over the initiative of over 190 of its members to impeach President Olusegun Obasanjo.
ABUJA – THE House of Representatives resolved, yesterday, to take over the initiative of over 190 of its members to impeach President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Consequently, the House will now “properly document” alleged constitutional breaches committed by the President, according to the Chairman of its Committee on Information, Mr. Alaba Ojomo.
Mr. Ojomo told reporters at the end of an executive session of the House that members also agreed to enlarge the committee set up two weeks ago to compile alleged constitutional breaches of the president.
He said the committee would now formally take over the initiative of the originators of the impeachment process. In effect, the committee headed by the majority leader of the House, Alhaji Abdul Ningi, is to harmonise all the groups, which have been pushing for impeachment of the President within the House. The committee is expected to turn in its report to the full House in a week’s time.
Mr. Ojomo said: “Let me let you know that every member of the House has a right to move a motion but what the House is saying is that impeachment is a very serious affair and it needs a co-ordinated effort by the whole House. We recognise the fact that Honourable Bashir Nadabo has the right to do what he is doing. He has not broken any rule, he has not breached any law of the country, but we feel that the House at this point should take over this matter so that we treat it the way it is: a serious matter.
“We feel that impeachment is a serious offence and should not be allowed to be done by individual members. The process is still on but it will now take a new form because we want it to follow due process.”
Sources at the Executive Session said several members who expressed opposition to the impeachment were shouted down by majority of members. Some members were also said to have accused the Presidency of trying to blackmail the National Assembly further by leaking information to the press on the release of over N6 billion quarterly dues of the National Assembly in the 2005 budget.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday wrote to the House on the need to amend the 2005 Budget in view of the withdrawal of the mysterious budget drafted by her on the directive of President Obasanjo to replace the duly passed budget. The mysterious budget is one of the “impeachable offences” listed against the President by the Obasanjo-must-go group.
In the letter to the Speaker of the House, Alhaji Aminu Masari, yesterday, the minister asked the House to be prepared to make arrangement for virement of funds in relation to the 2005 budget.
The letter reads: “We refer to our discussion on the issue of virement as it relates to the 2005 federal budget. We are pleased to inform you that the Budget Office of the Federation and the affected ministries and agencies are ready to discuss and agree on this issue with the relevant joint committee of the National Assembly. We shall, therefore, be grateful if you could please let us know when we can commence this exercise.”
Speaking on the decision reached on the minister’s letter yesterday, Information Committee Chairman of the House, Mr. Ojomo, said the House resolved to allow all the committees of the House to re-examine the budget and accord the President his desire on the budget. He said: “The point is this, there is budget 2005 as passed by the National Assembly. The President did not take kindly to this budget as passed by the National Assembly but through dialogue he was able to append his signature on the budget and that means that we have a budget.
“But there was conflict later on because the President having signed the budget now decided that he was not going to implement this budget again. He brought a budget that we called mysterious budget to the House. We thought that it is our job to appropriate funds and that the budget that we tagged to be mysterious is not the budget that we are going to work on and we have been in conflict with Mr. President.
“Part of the resolution of the conflict is that this budget as passed by us would remain like that but that there would be adjustment inside the budget. Maybe in certain cases, the President felt that money voted for water is not what he wants or is not enough. So all the committees will now meet with Appropriation Committee and would decide and do some virement, but the amount of money in the budget (overall figure) remains the same.
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