Afternoon Voice

Nigerian lawmakers warn Buhari over security, corruption

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday faced a threat of impeachment after lawmakers issued a raft of demands over security and corruption in a deepening rift with the executive.

Both chambers of parliament said the National Assembly “will not hesitate to (invoke) its constitutional powers if nothing is done,” in a clear warning to the 75-year-old leader.

Buhari, elected in 2015 on pledges of defeating Boko Haram insurgents and fighting endemic corruption, is under pressure on both fronts as he looks towards re-election next February.

The Islamist militants, though weakened, are still present in the northeast, while central states have seen a resurgence of deadly violence between cattle herders and farmers.

At the same time, kidnapping gangs and cattle thieves have increased attacks in the wider north.

The lawmakers’ statement followed a closed-door meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

In it, they call for security chiefs to be sacked for failing to protect lives and property while also castigating Buhari for appointing them in the first place.

It accused the head of the federal police, Ibrahim Idris, of “doing nothing” to prevent the violence and of being a yes-man appointed to do the government’s bidding.

The executive uses the police and security agencies for the “systematic harassment and humiliation… of perceived political opponents”, the statement said.

It further accused Buhari of being “selective” in his fight against corruption and called for members of his own administration with cases against them to be prosecuted.

The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party has called the former military ruler’s anti-corruption drive a political witch-hunt, as most of those charged are PDP members.

That has raised tensions between the legislature and the executive, as has the government’s greater scrutiny of parliamentary spending in an effort to cut waste and fraud.

Lawmakers passed a “vote of confidence” in embattled Senate leader Bukola Saraki, who has been linked to a criminal gang that carried out an armed robbery in April that killed 33.

Police on Sunday issued a statement calling on Saraki, who has denied the claims and suggested he is being set up, to come in for questioning.

He has been at loggerheads with Buhari’s All Progressives Congress as he was not the party’s first choice as Senate president — the third-highest position in Nigerian politics.

Both he and the speaker of the lower House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, defected from the PDP before elections in 2015.

On Tuesday evening, APC lawmakers claimed the joint statement was not unanimous and mostly represented the views of PDP members.

There was no immediate comment from the presidency.