August 6, 2020
AN EVALUATION OF THE POWER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS
By Akorede Folarin (Associate)
It is not uncommon to see either chamber of the National Assembly inviting different heads/personnel of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and companies to appear before one or more of their standing committees due to one or more issues for determination before them. As a matter of fact, we have severally witnessed face-offs between either chamber and those they invite, often timesowing to challenges by those people or bodies on the propriety or legality of such invitations or the conduct of proceedings. A significant example of this was the embarrassing face-off between the Senate and the Inspector-General of Police in 2018 due to the latter refusing to honour the former’s invitation for investigation into the insecurity, mass violence and extra-judicial killings being witnessed in the country.1
Another is the legendary ‘trial by fire’ of the ex-Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. ArunmaOteh, in 2012. It even so happened that the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the official industry body for telecommunications companies and operators in Nigeria, dragged the National Assembly before the Federal High Court in 2018, complaining that the constant invitation of their CEOs to appear before different committees of the National Assembly affected their daily business operations, and seeking a judicial clarification of the oversight functions carried out by lawmakers in the telecoms sector.2
In view of all the above, this article evaluates the investigative/oversight powers of the National Assembly as guaranteed by the Constitution viz-a-viz highlighting the extent or limit of that power.
CONSTITUTIONAL OVERSIGHT POWERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The legislative oversight power bequeathed upon the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly (HoA) by the Constitution3 is an important part of the fabric of our democratic system of government. It is a power given to the legislature to assist it in performing its role of checks and balances in a democracy.
Download full Newsletter here powers of the National Assembly as a pdf document.