The Senate has reacted to comments made by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal who called on Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu to leave the National Assembly out of their trial.
The Federal government had arraigned Saraki, Ekweremadu, alongside two others before Justice Yusuf Haliru of an Abuja High Court on Monday for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order, 2015.
Saraki after his arraignment released a statement, saying that there is a government within President Buhari’s government that want to undermine democracy, but he will rather go to jail than see that happen.
Ekweremadu also wrote to the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), US Congress, and other international organisations, saying that “there is a clear attempt to silence” him. Click here to read it.
The Senate, through its Media and Publicity Committee Chairman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi in a statement said that it is being targeted and intimidated in order to force a leadership change. It also added that Saraki and Ekweremadu were not mentioned by the petitioners.
The statement titled: “Forgery Case: It’s Senate That is Being Assaulted” read:
We note the statement issued by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Babachir Lawal that the Senate is not the one on trial in the Forgery case instituted by the Attorney General of the Federation against the Senate President and his Deputy.
We disagree with him on this position and we maintain our earlier stand that it is the Senate that is the target of the present attempt to intimidate the legislature to force a leadership change in the Senate.
Babachir Lawal should tell us how reasonable it is to conclude that when the President of Nigeria and the Vice President are being jointly tried in a suit whose outcome can remove them from office, it is not the Buhari Government that is being targeted.
It is also imperative to clearly state that contrary to the claim by the SGF, neither the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki nor Senator Ike Ekweremadu were mentioned by the petitioners, the statements by those interviewed by the police or even the police report.
Meanwhile, let us refreshen Lawal’s memory about the facts of the 1999 case. It is obvious that the Senate President and his deputy are not being accused of certificate forgery as it happened in ex-Speaker Salisu Buhari‘s case. Therefore, nobody should compare an apple with orange. Also, neither Saraki nor Ekweremadu is below the age requirement for their present position as it was alleged in the Buhari case. Attempts to make the two situations look similar is to present all Nigerians as having no sense of history.
We also know that nobody can be accused of forging his own signature. The executive is in no position to determine what is the correct Standing Orders of the Senate. The Senate President and his Deputy were as at the morning of the June 9, 2015 inauguration of the Senate mere Senators-elect and could therefore not have been in a position to influence any alteration in the rule book.
The Senate as an institution, and indeed the National Assembly, has spoken about their understanding of the present assault on their independence by the executive. We maintain that this trial is a design by the Executive to criminalize the internal affairs of the Senate to create a distraction for the leadership of the Senate, force a leadership change and cow the legislators.
Those behind this plot find this trial more expedient and important than finding tangible solutions to the multi-various socio-economic problems bedeviling the country. However, we are sure they will fail in this attempt. We only hope they will allow the judiciary to truly and creditably perform its duties and give independent verdict on the case.