- Says it’s in public interest
Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday declared to the Senate that there was no going back on the forgery case trial recently instituted by his office against the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and two others.
Malami, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, explained that the continuation of the case was in the public interest.
According to him, the eighth Senate violated Section 60 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) in the alleged amendment of the 2015 Senate Standing Rules.
He maintained that the way and manner the alleged amendment of the 2015 Senate Standing Rules was carried out were not in compliance with provisions of section 60 of the 1999 constitution in procedures and proceedings, the basis upon which the case was filed.
The AGF explained further that rather than serve as imminent threat to democracy as declared by the Senate in its resolution of 21st of last month, upon which he was summoned by the committee, the trial was instituted to sustain democracy.
He said: “I wish to state that I have a clear obligation to do whatever that can possibly be done to sustain democracy.
“Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution (amended) states that the National Assembly shall have powers to regulates its own procedure.
“If the procedure in question was not followed, then it does not fall within section 60 of the constitution.
“When the need for amendment of the Senate Rules arose in 2011, the senate conducted a proceeding and passed resolution for amendment.
“The 2015 rule as allegedly amended did not pass through the traditional way of doing things. That is where the inherited investigation and now criminal case comes into being.
“In as much a senate has powers to regulate its procedures any rule that did not following the processes as stated above is a breach.
“The need to prevent abuse behooves on me. The parameter, arising from the breaching of section 60 is to ensure that I take logical criminal step to ensure things are done within the constitutional provision”.
Section 60 (1and 2) state thus: “Subject to provisions of this constitution, each House of Parliament may regulate its own procedure.
“Each House of Parliament may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership (including any vacancy not filled when the House first meets after any dissolution of Parliament) and the presence or participation of any person not entitled to be present at or to participate in the proceedings of the House shall not invalidate those proceedings”.
He added that the Senate as an institution was not a party to the case before the court and that bureaucracy was not in any way contemplated by the provisions of section 60 of the constitution on amendment procedure of the senate standing rules.
Efforts made by the committee chairman, Senator David Umaru (APC Niger East) and some other committee members to convince him that the trial amounted to interference in the internal affairs of the Senate, particularly as regards non-mentioning names of Senate president and his deputy in the petition and written statements of any of the 14 witnesses, proved abortive as the AGF, for fear of subjudice, declined further comments.
This was even as some members of the committee pitched their tents with the AGF on the case, leading to open disagreement among them.
Specifically, Senator Babajide Omoworare (APC Osun East) openly declared at the session that he was not bordered about the forgery case and that submissions made against it by some of his colleagues were merely their personal views , since according to him, senate resolution believed by them to have authenticated the alleged amendment, does not have retroactive effect.
“A resolution of the senate in the eye of the law, cannot retroactively validate or authenticate anything done before it,” he said.
A submission that made some other members like Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) to openly requested the chairman to call Omoworare to order, shouting “go to the side of the AGF, you are not with us here!”