Former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu on Wednesday cautioned against executive legislation through Executive Orders. He said the practice could plunge the country into authoritarianism and possible dictatorship.
By Sanni Onogu, Abuja
Ekweremadu’s position was contained in a paper he delivered at the ongoing 60th Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), in Abuja.
The paper was made available by his spokesman, Uche Anichukwu.
He said: “Democracy envisages the division of governmental powers into three different arms, each with distinct powers and responsibilities clearly provided for in a country’s ground norm.
“The philosophy behind this compartmentalisation of powers is the need to preserve the liberty of citizens and prevent abuse and tyranny by one arm of government over the other.
“Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly is empowered to exclusively legislate for the peace, order, and good government of the federation or any part of it with respect to any matter on the exclusive legislative list in the second schedule to the constitution.
“The only section in the Constitution that confers the executive with some form of quasi-lawmaking powers is section 315 of the Constitution, which provides that the President or the governor, as the case may be, may modify the text of an existing legislation, as he considers necessary or expedient, to bring such law into conformity with the provisions of the constitution.
Citing Executive Orders Six and 10 of the President Buhari’s administration as examples of overreaching executive orders, Ekweremadu reminded that much as the President had good intentions to get the governors to implement the constitution amendment granting financial autonomy to States’ House of Assembly and States Judiciary, Harvard professors, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, in their book, “How Democracies Die” had warned that the road to dictatorship is always paved with good intensions.
He said: “Part of that Executive Order, orders the impoundment of parts of monthly allocations of any state that fails to remit these monies to state judiciary and state legislature.
“This does not in any way represent what we amended in the Constitution. The Order is evidently contrary to the provisions of Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and the position of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Attorney-General of Abia State vs. Attorney-General of the Federation”, he said.
Ekweremadu called on the NBA and other public interest groups to act as gatekeepers by seeking the intervention of the courts at the earliest opportunity against any Executive Orders.