A group of lawyers with the name Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates (COPA), has advised the National Assembly (NASS) members not to indulge in actions capable of portraying them as usurpers of executive functions.
Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, convener of COPA gave the advice in a statement following Tuesday’s rowdy session as lawmakers and Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour trade words over sharing of 774,000 employment slots.
Olajengbaesi while reacting to the development said that the session would have been had with professional decency, and cordiality extended to the Minister and Senior Advocate of Nigeria as against the raucous show exhibited by the lawmakers.
“It is, however, apparent from yesterday’s revelatory drama that the lawmakers are intent on usurping the powers of the executive as represented by the Honourable Minister through arm-twisting and by exerting control over the employment programme.
“It is not in contention that legislators have and can exercise the right of review over executive actions or programmes; it is part and parcel of the checks and balance feature of our constitutional democracy.
“The enabling provision of the constitution, to wit; Section 88, which so empowers the legislators to review programme such as the recruitment program, however, stops-short of enabling the legislature from exerting control over such matters.
“Its part and role stops at censoring, querying or reviewing executive actions and does not empower them to usurp this roles or programmes even where in its wisdom the executive are not handling it quite well.
“Simply put, the legislators have the right to ask questions, demand explanations, and or, make suggestions, but may not take charge of the execution of such programmes directly or through any delegated authority stemming from it.
“In view of this, the attempt by the National Assembly through one of its committee to usurp executive power and exert itself improperly on the special federal recruitment exercise underway is truly deserving of public condemnation,” Olajengbesi said.
He urged the lawmakers to toe the line of fair hearing based on democratic principles and values to guarantee natural justice.
Olajengbesi added: “In consideration of this factor, any attempt aimed at muzzling Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN, as he goes about his ministerial power and function within the confines of the law must be promptly subdued.
“Failure to subdue and defeat such brazen attempts opens the floodgates to habitual high-handedness and lawlessness in our administrative system, and this must not be allowed.”