ECA withdrawal without National Assembly’s approval amounts to constitutional breach ―Ubani


Second Vice President, Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani has said the decision of the federal government to withdraw money from the Excess Crude Account for 12 fighter jets without due approval by the National Assembly amounts to a breach of the nation’s constitution.

Quoting Section 80 of the 1999 constitution and its stipulations on how money accurable to the federation account should be spent, he Ubani however said it was up to the National Assembly to accept or reject the explanation by the federal government that the funds were withdrawn as a matter of exigency.

Ubani who made these assertions while featuring on a Channels Television programme, Monday evening, added that the Excess Crude Account was not recognized by law hence was an illegal account.

“There is procedure for spending public money under the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria. If you go to Section 80, it makes provision for how money accruable to the federation account should be spent.

“It must be properly appropriated by the National Assembly and if it is not, it amounts to clear breach of the constitution.

“The issue of exigency or emergency is a different kettle of fish. If the explanation is satisfactory to the National Assembly, they may overlook it and ratify.

“In the first place, the Excess Crude Account is an illegal account and not backed by any law and if you want to use that process to take out any money from the system, it will be regarded as illegal. Even money that goes above the benchmark must be paid into the federation account. So whatever they are doing is illegal,” Ubani said.

Speaking on the same Channels programe, Spokesperson, House of Reps, Honourable Abdulrazak Namdas has said that the National Assembly would greatly consider the explanation of exigency given by the federation, in recognition of the various security challenges facing the country.

Especially noting the nation’s security challenges ranging from insurgency to herdsmen crisis, kidnapping, bunkering, Namdas said the National Assembly would approve of the spending to as to support government’s fight against insecurity.

Though he recognized constitutional provisions on the need for National Assembly’s approval of government’s spending, he said the explanation of the executive on the urgency of purchasing 12 fighter jets was germane.

“Section 80, 2 -4 of the 1999 constitution states that any amount of money that will be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Account must be backed by an act of parliament, it has to be prescribed in a manner that the National Assembly approves of it. Any money not taken within the prescribed law or without the National Assembly’s approval is actually a violation.

“But, all these quotations are seen on the pages of newspapers. This letter has not been read on the floor of the National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives. When it is read on the floor, we will look at it whether the explanation given by the executive on the purchase of the 12 aircraft is germane.

“Ordinarily, the National Assembly is not out to frustrate government’s spending so long as it follows due procedures. We’ll follow that and approve of it because we have so many security challenges ranging from insurgency to herdsmen crisis, kidnapping, bunkering. If we can have funds to buy equipments to bring down this crisis, we will support it,” Namdas said.

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