Reps respond to President’s declaration on democracy day

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

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The House of Representatives has referred the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by President Muhammadu Buhari to the House’s Joint Committee on Justice and Rules and Business to ascertain its legal status.

This followed a rowdy session when a motion of urgent public importance on the declaration of June twelve as the National Democracy Day in Nigeria by President Buhari was raised.

Mr Wale Raji from Lagos State, sponsor of the motion under matters of urgent public importance, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release the result of the 1993 election and declare Moshood Abiola, President-elect.

Mr. Raji lamented that “Since the return of democracy in 1999, successive government had failed to recognize June 12 as National Democracy Day.

I urged the House to commend President Buhari for the courageous step which was a sign that he listen to the voices of the people.”

The lawmaker said he was relieved that President Buhari finally declared June 12 as National Democracy Day.

In his contribution, Mr. Edward Pwajok from Plateau State, drew the attention of the house to the Public Holidays Act which states that May 29 shall be recognized as National Democracy Day.

Mr. Pwajok explained that “for the declaration to take effect the Public Holidays Act has to be amended and INEC has to declare Abiola as winner for 1993 election.”

Mr. Pwajok, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) however pointed out that there is a Court order prohibiting INEC from releasing the result.

However the House was thrown to a rowdy session when Mr. Osai Nicholas faulted the President’s declaration and accused the Executive of assuming the powers of the Legislative arm.

Mr. Osai Osai argued that “an Act of Parliament cannot be changed by a Presidential Declaration and that if June 12 must stand, it should follow due process of the amendment of the Public Holidays Act.”

Briefing National Assembly correspondents after the plenary, Spokesman of the House Abdulrazaq Namdas said the President has executive power to declare any day public holiday and that the House did not decide on the matter.

Although some members insisted that the May 29 is an act of the National Assembly and remains legal as the National Democracy Day until otherwise, most lawmakers have commended the President for the bold decision.

 

Aisha JM