Published: Thu, April 26, 2018
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Buhari writes Senate for approval to buy helicopters from US

Buhari writes Senate for approval to buy helicopters from US

The president's letter to the national assembly read in parts: "It would be recalled that, for a number of years, Nigeria had been in discussions with the United States Government for the purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft under a direct Government-to-Government arrangement".

The source said the lawmakers, particularly those in house of representatives, are not happy with the development, adding that the president's trip was cut short because of the issue.

According to Buhari, the expenditure was made in anticipation that the Green Chamber would approve it, as part of the 2018 Appropriation Bill, now before the National Assembly.

Further reports said, today's plenary session will be stormy and more aggravated by plans to use the newly amended Legislative Houses and Privileges Act to clamp an indefinite suspension on Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, APC, Delta Central over his alleged role in the invasion of the chambers by thugs, last Wednesday. Right, the house of representatives have a copy of the letter that the money had already been disbursed but then it has not been appropriated.

The letter titled 'Supplementary input into the 2018 Appropriation Bill: Purchase of Super Tucano Aircraft from the United States Government, dated April 13, 2018 reads in part: "In the expectation that the National Assembly would have no objection to the purchase of this highly specialized aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval for the release of US$496,374,470.00". This was paid directly to the treasury of the United States government.

According to Chinda, there is no language of anticipatory approval as claimed by the president in the constitution.

"You are talking about anticipatory approval, is this House a rubber stamp?" These challenges were discussed with the State governors and subsequently, at the meeting of the National Economic Council on 14th December 2017, where a resolution was passed, with the council approving that up to US$1 billion may be released and utilized from the Excess Crude Account to address the situation. "I recommend that we should commencement impeachment on the president", he stated. "By our rule, the letter of this nature should not be debated upon but should be carried out with action". "While section 80 (3) states that "no moneys shall withdrawn from any public fund of the federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation unless the issues of those moneys has been authorized by an act of the National Assembly", section 80 (4) provides that "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".

The lawmaker who is the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, noted that to spend the money before sending a request to that effect to the National Assembly was an impeachable offence.

"So, I believe that even if our rules say so, the constitution overrides that", he said.

Hon. Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) said though such unapproved expenditure could no doubt instigate anger, "a letter from the president should be slated appropriately, as this is the first time".

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