The Senate on Thursday criticised the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for deploying troops to The Gambia without seeking legislative approval.
The Nigerian Air Force had moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets, led by Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf, to Dakar, Senegal, which is the base of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military intervention to force President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia out of power.
The Nigerian troops, who left from the 117 Air Combat Training Group camp in Kainji, Niger State, on Wednesday, joined troops from Senegal, Ghana and other countries in the West African sub-region.
But Senator Chukwuka Utazi, while raising a constitutional point of order, said what the Buhari-led government did was against the law, citing Section 5 (4) of the Constitution.
Section 5(4) states, “(a) the President shall not declare a state of war between the federation and another country except with the sanction of a resolution of both houses of the National Assembly sitting in a joint session; and (b) except with the prior approval of the senate, no member of the armed forces of the federation shall be deployed on combat duty outside Nigeria.”
Utazi added, “I am saying this because of the happenings in our friendly country in Gambia. The ECOWAS countries have been discussing on this issue; on how to ensure that democratic crisis of the people of Gambia are protected. But to ask that this country will go on a warfare in another country without a recourse to this constitutional provisions is an affront of the 1999 Constitution and it is a breach of the Constitution, and we have failed even when the Senate has been cooperating with the executive.
“Let it be on record that if anything of this nature happens in this country; that this national assembly have to be informed properly in writing.”
President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, however cited Subsection 5 of the Constitution to counter Utazi.