President Muhammadu Buhari has written to Senate President Bukola Saraki, seeking the screening and confirmation of the Service Chiefs – one week after they were announced.
The development has laid to rest the controversy over whether or not it is necessary to screen the new team.
The Service chiefs are: the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj-Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin; the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai; the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan.
According to a reliable source in the Presidency, Buhari’s letter was sent to the Senate last Thursday, in anticipation that the National Assembly will resume tomorrow.
The President said the new appointments were made in line with the Armed Forces Act 2004.
In the letter, he specifically sought the “confirmation of the following nominees for appointment as the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs for the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in accordance with Section 18(1) of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A. 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004”.
The section reads: “The President may, upon consultation with the Chief of Defence Staff and subject to confirmation by the National Assembly, appoint such officers (in this Act referred to as ‘’Service Chiefs’’) as he thinks fit in whom the command of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as the case may be, and their Reserves shall be vested.”
The presidency source said Buhari was also exercising his power as enshrined in Section 218 (2) of the Constitution.
The section reads: “The powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include power to appoint the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.”
On the appointment of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, and the Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mallam Lawal Daura, the source said: “Such nominees are within the prerogative of the President; they do not need to be screened and confirmed by the National Assembly.
“What the President has done on the Service Chiefs was to comply with the law in line with his promise to Nigerians.
“And you will recall that a retired judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Bello, on July 1, 2013 ruled that the appointment of Service Chiefs is subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
But as at press time, it was learnt that the screening and confirmation of the new Service Chiefs may have to wait till the return of Senators from recess on July 28.
There was no confirmation yesterday that the upper chamber has received the letter.
here was no confirmation yesterday that the upper chamber has received the letter.
But a source said yesterday that the Senate will screen the new Service chiefs in camera, it was learnt yesterday.
To be screened are: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Maj-Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj-Gen T.Y. Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Akwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
One of the senators close to the Senate President’s Office told The Nation that Saraki will on the floor of the upper legislative chamber when the National Assembly reconvenes on July 28, read a communication from President Buhari seeking the confirmation of the Service chiefs.
The senator noted that after reading the presidential memo containing the names of the nominated Service chiefs, Saraki will proceed to set ad-hoc screening committee.
Setting up ad-hoc committee to screen the Service chiefs, he explained, became necessary in the absence of Standing Senate Committees.
He noted that the Senate Joint Committee on Defence and Army, Air Force, Navy, National Security and Intelligence, would have been mandated to screen the Service chiefs if they had been constituted.
The source said: “Because the committees are yet to be constituted, ad-hoc committee will screen the Service chiefs on resumption of plenary.”
The source added that the “security nature of the screening is the main reason why the Service Chiefs will not be screened on the floor of the Senate.”
On the members of the screening panel, he said that “those that will screen the military chiefs are purely at the discretion of the Senate President.”
He said that there is no controversy over the screening of the Service chiefs, pointing out that the Senate will not shy away from performing its duties.
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