senate
senate

WAR of words between the presidency and the Senate over the alleged forgery case of the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and two others, took another dimension yesterday when the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) declared that the legislature had no jurisdiction over the case since it was already in court. This is even as the number one law officer in the country shunned summons by the Senate for the second time to explain reasons for the reopening of the case that had already been settled by a Federal High Court before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters in Abuja. Though Malami was represented by the special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution,
Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, the committee led by Senator David Umaru (APC Niger East) walked him out of the hearing room 318. Earlier before he was asked to take his leave, Obono-Obla, who said he was attached to the Office of the AGF, declared that the matter was beyond the Senate. According to him, “This committee or the Senate has no jurisdiction on this matter; it is clearly beyond it since it is already in court.” He added that the AGF, whom he intended to represent at the session, was not answerable to the Senate but the president. The presidential aide, who eventually took his leave after the offensive submission and on account of not being the summoned Attorney- General, fired more salvos at the committee while fielding questions from journalists. Specifically, Obono-Obla said the committee had no business to
summon anybody over the matter already in court, saying their action was an attempt to be a judge in the matter. “You cannot be a judge in your own case. We don’t have confidence in the committee,” he said, insisting that the AGF had not done anything wrong to warrant the committee insisting on his appearance before it. “The AGF has not undermined democracy; he acted pursuant to the powers vested on him by the constitution. Section 174 (1) says he can prosecute anybody; and he has done that. The Senate is not on trial. He has not taken the Senate to court; he has taken four persons to court; (and) they are not the Senate. “Being president of the Senate does not make you the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The matter was investigated by the police and a prima facie case was established and the AG invoked his powers under Section 174 (1) to initiate criminal proceedings
against those persons. And this matter is now before a court of law. “There is separation of powers in Nigeria. It is not the position of the Senate to constitute themselves into a court of law,” he explained. The committee, however, resolved to report the non-appearance of the AGF before it to Senate plenary for appropriate action. Its chairman, Senator David Umaru said: “Having invited the AGF twice to appear before us as mandated by the Senate without him responding to the summons, this committee will surely report the matter to Senate in plenary for appropriate action.” Our correspondent reports that going by the contributions of other committee members in attendance, Senators Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) and Joshua Lidani (PDP Gombe South), the Senate may issue warrant of arrest on the AGF after its resumption from recess on July 12.


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