$496m ECA Withdrawal: PDP Calls For Sanctions
Following the withdrawal of $496 million (N151.4 billion) from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States government, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the National Assembly to commence “constitutional processes” against President Muhammadu Buhari for violating his oath of office.
In a statement issued Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said it had nothing against any effort to ensure adequate security in the country, but held that such efforts should have been done within the ambit of due process, the law and the Constitution.
The main opposition party also reminded U.S. President Donald Trump, who will be hosting Buhari next week, to note that the $496 million paid for the purchase of military aircraft forms part of the proceeds of illegal activities by the Nigerian president, who it said had violated the statutory provisions of the Constitution to pursue a selfish agenda.
“We therefore charge the National Assembly to investigate the whereabouts of the balance from the $1 billion ECA funds and the purposes for which it has been used, as well as save our democracy and constitutional order by invoking the appropriate legislative processes against President Buhari for this violation before it becomes too late,” said the PDP.
According to the party, the president was aware that his unilateral spending of $496 million from the ECA without recourse to the National Assembly was a gross violation of the laws and Constitution of Nigeria and a direct affront to the statutory order as a democratic state.
“By this action, President Buhari has technically suspended the 1999 Constitution (as amended), plundered the inherent powers of the National Assembly as the principal institution of democratic rule, while re-enacting a sole administratorship in governance as if our nation is operating a military regime.
“More disturbing is the revelation that President Buhari paid the $496 million for the purchase of military aircraft from the United States, ignoring allegations of overpricing and issues concerning due process, just to achieve political expediency of currying President Donald Trump’s support for his 2019 re-election bid,” it said.
PDP further said that Buhari’s action amounted to a gross misconduct and betrayal of public trust because, in the bid to push a personal agenda, he deliberately side-stepped statutory legislative scrutiny and acted in clear breach of Section 80(3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution.
It noted that whereas Section 80(3) states that “no moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorised 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”.
“It is shocking that President Buhari whose administration prides itself on claims of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption, and was elected on a platform that lays claim to the height of progressivism, who boasts of the highest standards of integrity, can mundanely resort to a violent abuse of our Constitution just to suit a desperate passion of seeking re-election,” the party added.
PDP further recalled that when there was an outcry after the defence minister, Dan-Ali, revealed earlier this month that Buhari had given approval for the withdrawal of the $1 billion from the ECA, the presidency had strenuously denied it.
“It would be recalled that following the public outcry over the announcement that President Buhari had unilaterally approved the withdrawal of $1 billion from the ECA, the presidency, through the president’s Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, on April 9, 2018 stated that no such approval had been made, adding that President Buhari would never act in breach of Section 80 of the constitution. Yet, they were aware that payment had been made.
“The resort to falsehood, deception and secrecy in the withdrawal from the ECA and the reported $496 million payment for the military aircraft raises very serious issues regarding the integrity of the Buhari presidency,” said the PDP.