A team of top police officers yesterday met with the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and some principal officers of the Upper House over a petition that the Senate Standing Rules was altered.
The team sent, by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, questioned the Senate principal officers over the same matter.
Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Abayomi Shogunle, confirmed that the meeting took place in the office of the Clerk, adding that a senator had written a petition that the Standing Rules was substituted without the authorisation of the Senate.
Shogunle disclosed that some senators were questioned during the meeting, and that the petitioner (senator) had made a statement to the police over the allegation.
Asked whether the petition was targeted at the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, he said it was not but “against procedure.’’
Shogunle said contrary to reports, Ekweremadu was not invited by the police and declined further comments, adding that the matter was under investigation.
The police action contradicted allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that IGP Solomon Arase had invited Ekweremadu for questioning on the alleged forgery of the Standing Rules.
PDP had alleged that the police in conjunction with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, were scheming to force Ekweremadu to step down as Deputy Senate President.
Media reports claimed Arase asked Ekweremadu to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja yesterday to answer questions on a petition said to have been filed against him by a group of senators detailing how he unilaterally tinkered with certain provisions of the Senate Standing Rules on the election of the Senate President and his deputy.
The petitioners alleged that Ekweremadu took undue advantage of the rules to become the Deputy Senate President in the June 9 election of principal officers of the National Assembly.
Consequently, police detectives were detailed to probe the allegations.
However, Nigerian Pilot gathered that the IGP wrote to the Clerk of the Senate to arrange a meeting with the concerned senators (principal officers) for questioning.
As early as 8am yesterday, journalists converged at the Louis Edet Force Headquarters, Abuja, but after waiting for a long period, Senator Ekweremadu did not honour the invitation, and in curiosity, when reporters started asking questions, it was learnt that the meeting was to hold at the Senate wing of the National Assembly.
Our correspondent gathered that the police officers, who met with the Clerk of the Senate, interrogated some principal officers of the Upper House.
Prior to the meeting, the Force headquarters denied any plans to arrest Ekweremadu or blackmail him in a bid to force him to relinquish his position as Deputy Senate President.
In a reaction to the accusation, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Abayomi Shogunle, twitted that: “The Nigeria Police Force received a petition from a senator alleging unauthorised substitution of Senate document and the matter was referred to Force CIID Abuja for investigation.”
Shogunle noted further that, “In line with the policy of the Police leadership of gathering evidence before invitation, a letter was sent to the Clerk of the National Assembly to facilitate a meeting of some principal senate members/clerk with Police investigating team headed by DIG FCIID at their convenient time and venue. No plans to arrest Deputy Senate President as Nigeria Police Force have healthy respect for democratic values,” Shogunle said in a trilogy of tweets.
The meeting, the police said, is expected to also hold at a time and location convenient.
I can’t be intimidated, says Ekweremadu
Meanwhile, Ekweremadu has declared that no amount of harassment from desperate politicians would deter him from carrying out his constitutionally prescribed duties as one of the principal officers of the 8th Senate through an election transparently conducted on June 9.
Ekweremadu made the declaration following the storming of the National Assembly by a detachment of policemen from Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID led by a Commissioner of Police for investigation of the alleged crime of forging the Senate Standing Rules to favour his election and those of other principal officers.
The Commissioner of Police whose name tag was not displayed on his chest, was said to have left a message for Ekweremadu to appear today (Tuesday) at FCID headquarters, Area 10, Garki, Abuja.
Ekweremadu had upon being alleged to have along with some other ranking senators of the 7th Senate forged the senate standing orders 2015 as amended, by Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central ) in the heat of the leadership crisis a few weeks ago, submitted that it was an amendment carried out by the 7th Senate preparatory to the take off of the 8th Senate.
Though Marafa was ruled out of order upon which he based his allegation, but another APC senator, Suleiman Hunkuyi, (Kaduna North), in his capacity as secretary of the Senate Unity Forum, forwarded a written portion to the IGP last week on the alleged forgery for thorough investigation.
But Ekweremadu, in a statement issued by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, said since the news broke out of his purported invitation by the Police on Sunday, he has received calls from numerous Nigerians across regional and political divides, expressing their solidarity and calling on all and sundry on the need for protection of independence of legislature.
He assured all Nigerians and concerned members of the international community that everything is under control and that all democratic steps are being taken to preserve the nation’s democracy and protect the independence of the legislature.