NASS should sanction Buhari for withdrawing $146m from ECA without approval - PDP

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The Pentagon past year August notified the U.S. Congress of the sale to Nigeria of the 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons worth $593m, needed for the fight against the militant group, Boko Haram.

According to the president, the helicopters are meant to support the drive to improve the security of the nation.

On Tuesday, some members of the house of representatives called for President Muhammadu Buhari's impeachment for approving the withdrawal of sum of $496 million without their nod.

"In the expectation that the National Assembly will have no objection to the purchase of these highly specialized aircraft, which is critical to national security, I granted anticipatory approval to the release of $496,370,470". The expenditure has already been secured without any approval.

In a letter to the leadership of the national assembly dated April 13, 2018, the president explained that the United States had given Nigeria a deadline for payment, hence the reason he approved the money without consulting the legislators.

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It will be recalled that the House had last Tuesday resolved to investigate allegations of violation of due process against the executive in the award of contract for the importation of arms worth $460 million from the United States (US).

"I am therefore writing seeking approval of the senate for the sum of $496,370.470 (equivalent of N151,394,421,035) to be included in the 2018 Appropriation bill which the National Assembly is now finalizing".

The party in a statement yesterday through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the action amounts to a gross misconduct and betrayal of public trust, noting that the government deliberately sidestepped statutory legislative scrutiny and acted in clear breach of section 80 (3) (4) of the 1999Constitution (as amended).

It shows that Mr Buhari had already given anticipatory approval for the withdrawal of $496,374,470 (N151 394, 421, 355) from the ECA for the purchase of the aircraft and was only seeking the inclusion of same in the 2018 Appropriation Bill that the National Assembly is now finalising.

Amidst deafening chants of "yes, no, yes, no" by antagonists and protagonists of the point of order, Chinda, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, argued that such infraction could only be tolerated in an autocratic government.

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"These people gave the president wrong information". This is a mere communication that the money has been spent in anticipation of approval.

Buhari said he expected the lawmakers to back the purchase of this aircraft which he said was critical to national security and therefore went on with the approval.

After contributions by several lawmakers, Dogara ruled that the letter will be listed for debate where the lawmakers would make more contributions.

Samson Okwu (Benue-PDP) said the issue remained a serious one, adding the President Buhari should be told in clear terms to return the money to the federation account.

But Kayode Oladele (Ogun- APC), Munir Agundi (Kano -APC) and Yakubu Balogun (Lagos-APC) argued that the anticipatory approval was not unlawful since it was necessitated by the exigency to tackle the security challenges in the country.

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