It all started with the emergence of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as the President and Deputy President of the Senate on July 9, 2015 when the 8th Mational Assembly was inaugurated in Abuja against the wish of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. The election of Ekweremadu, a member of the now opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as the senate deputy president, in particular according to a source from the APC worsened Saraki’s case before the party leadership.
Though Saraki; Ekweremadu and two other accused persons, Abubakar Salisu Maikasuwa, former Clerk of the National Assembly, and Benedict Efeturi, Clerk of the Senate /Deputy Clerk of National Assembly, have been granted bail by the Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, over their alleged complicity in forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015, used for the inauguration, the politics behind the arraignment continues.
This was more evident after the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, notified the court of government’s counter-affidavit opposing release of the accused persons on bail after they entered their plea to the charge marked CR/219/16.
According to Diri, the counter-affidavit which was filed in the morning of Monday, June 27 was still pending before the court’s registry and therefore persuaded trial Justice Yusuf Halilu to stand-down the matter for an hour to enable the registry to transmit the process to the court for hearing.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against them by the federal government. The judge, who noted that they had not been proved guilty, hence granted them conditional bail. He ordered that the defendants to provide two reasonable sureties who must be Nigerians and who must own property in Abuja, the failure of which they would be remanded in Kuje prison, Abuja. ‎The judge adjourned to July 11 for trial.
The matter now being criminalised was brought to the plenary of the Senate in session, over a year ago. And because it had no support, it was overruled and roundly defeated in chambers. To now take a matter that was resolved on the floor of the Senate to the police and then make it form the subject of a criminal prosecution of freely elected legislators beats all imagination of free thinking men all over the world. The implication is that any matter that fails on the floor of the National Assembly will now be taken to the Police, thereby endangering every Senator and House member.
This current move clearly runs contrary to the Doctrine of Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances which are fundamental to the successful operation of the Presidential System of government. It runs counter to the principle outlined by the Supreme Court in the Adesanya Vs Senate case where it was held that nobody should seek to use the courts to achieve what he or she has failed to push through on the floor of the National Assembly.
According to the spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Rules of the Senate and how the institution elects its leadership are internal affairs. “The Rules of a new Senate are provided by the National Assembly bureaucracy. It has always been so since 1999. After the inauguration of the Senate, if Senators have objections to any part of the Rules, they can follow the procedure for changing it. Senators of the Eighth Senate have no control on the rules applied in the elections of June 9, 2015 because until after their inauguration, they were only Senators-elect and therefore mere bystanders in the affairs of the Senate”.
When the forgery and conspiracy case against the senate leadership and management by the Executive, was reopened recently, the upper legislative arm of government cried out that the nation’s democracy was in danger and described the action as a coup against the legislature.
Abdullahi stated that “this present effort, therefore, is clearly a coup against the legislature with the ignoble aim to undermine its independence and subject the law making institution to the whims and caprices of the executive”.
He added: “It is a plan to return Nigeria to the dictatorial era which we have, as a nation, voted to reject. It is a dangerous trend with grave implications for the survival of our democracy and the integrity of the component institutions. This rule of men as against the rule of law is also the reason why the War Against Corruption, one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration, is losing credibility because people perceive it to be selective and, in most cases, aimed at settling political or partisan scores”.
The spokesperson particularly affirmed that the charges preferred against Saraki; Ekweremadu; Maikasuwa and Efeturi was an unconstitutional, violation of principles of separation of powers, checks and balances.
Senator Abdullahi declared: “Our democracy is in danger and the attempt by the Executive arm of the federal government to muzzle the legislature and criminalise legislative processes in order to cause leadership change in the National Assembly is a return to the era of impunity and lack of respect for due process which we all fought to abolish”.
The Upper House therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to order over the case. “The Senate of the Federal Republic voted freely to elect its leadership into office and continuing attempts to change that leadership through the wanton abuse of judicial processes cannot stand in the eyes of the world”, it stated.
“If the legislative branch falls, democracy fails as there will be no other institution empowered by the Constitution to check and balance the enormous powers of the Executive branch. We also call on the judiciary as the last hope to save our constitutional democracy and stand up for the rule of law, by doing that which is right in this case”, Abdullahi alerted.
However, Saraki, has continued to maintain that he knows nothing about how the rules adopted in the inauguration of the 8th Senate on June 9, 2015 was formulated. He said the on-going trial in a case of forgery before the FCT High Court, was just another phase in the orchestrated persecution he has faced since he emerged as Senate President.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that he was not a part of the leadership of the 7th Senate that made the rules in question and prior to his unanimous election as Senate President on June 9 last year, he was merely a Senator-elect like all his colleagues, and therefore was not in a position to influence the rules that were to be used in the conduct of the election.
“The Police in their investigation were conscious that the incumbent Senate President was not in office prior to June 9, 2015 and that was why in their letters inviting some individuals for their investigation, they only mentioned officers of the 7th Senate. The last of the letters was written to the Clerk of the National Assembly on June 7, 2016 and he was not among those invited.
“Those who decided to smuggle the name of the Senate President into the charge sheet after the fact knew perfectly well that only the leadership of the 7th Senate were invited for investigation. But they needed to implicate him in keeping with their declared vow to ensure that even if their current efforts to nail him through the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT fail, they would find other ways to carry out their vendetta”, he stated.
It is a known fact that the leadership crisis rocking the Senate has caused division among senators, particularly within the ruling APC in the Red Chamber. Irked by the perceived persecution of the senate leadership, PDP senators passed vote of no confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari. The opposition lawmakers vowed to henceforth to cease further cooperation with the president on every communication to the Senate until he and his party, the All Progresives Congress, APC “cease the belligerent attitude towards PDP members”.
In a communiqué read at media briefing in Abuja, the PDP caucus explained that their decision was predicated on “unwarranted threats to the legislative arm of government, particularly to the
Senate leadership by the executive arm, as well as the on-going intimidation and persecution of the opposition party (PDP) by the ruling party (APC)”.
The lawmakers accused the President Buhari of persecuting their party members in the guise of fighting corruption while turning deaf ears on his party members who have corruption allegations hanging on their necks.
The communiqué read by the Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, who was accompanied by over 30 PDP senators including the Deputy Senate President, said the president’s actions through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had become worrisome to well meaning Nigerians over the safety of democracy in the country.
But a factional caucus of the APC Senators led by the Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun Central), in collaboration with the only Labour Party Senator in the senate, Ovie Omo- Agege (Delta Central), took a different position by throwing their weight behind the policies and programmes of President Buhari at briefing with journalists.
The caucus in particular, slammed the PDP senators over their withdrawal of support for President Buhari on alleged selective anti- corruption war and also condemned the allegation of dictatorial tendencies leveled against him.
“We are shocked at the totally partisan reaction of our colleagues from the minority party, PDP, to the on-going investigations and recovery of public funds meant for the prosecution of the war against insurgency. Contrary to the assertion of our PDP colleagues, the investigation is not a partisan war against a particular political party. It is no longer a news item that there was a wanton diversion of public funds meant for fighting insurgency to fund campaigns of PDP. Members of the PDP were the sole and iniquitous beneficiaries of this diversion”, the caucus said.
There is no denying the fact that many Nigerians have been highly disappointed in the administration of President Buhari due to the ongoing hardship in the land. They have therefore continued to ask for the fulfillment of his electoral promises of adequate food supply, good roads, water, electricity, and improved security, among others things that would make life worthy of living for them.


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