Forgery Case: Senate accuses FG of coup plot

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The Senate has reacted strongly to the filing of
criminal charges against the Senate President,
Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu
over the alleged forgery of the Rules of the 8th
Senate used in electing them on the 9th of July
2015.
The legislature accused the executive of abuse of
power and attempting to force a change in the
leadership of the National Assembly.
Warning of grave consequences of the move to
muzzle the legislature and criminalize its
process, the Senate also said the entire process
taken by the Federal Government is a step
towards dictatorship.
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The Senate stated this in a statement issued on
Sunday by the Chairman, Senate Committee on
Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi
Abdullahi, adding it became necessary for the
upper chamber of the National Assembly to alert
Nigerians and the international community.
The statement reads in full:
After reading in the national newspapers and
online platforms of the planned charges of
forgery and conspiracy preferred against the
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki,
his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, immediate
past Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu
Maikasuwa and the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Ben
Efeturi and reviewing the circumstances leading
to the filing of these charges, we are compelled
to alert the good people of Nigeria and the
international community, that our democracy is
in danger and that 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 step towards dictatorship
we all fought to abolish.
We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to please
call his Attorney General and Minister of Justice,
Mr. Abubakar Malami, to order.
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 is clear that the Attorney General and party
leaders behind this action either lack the
understanding of the underlining principles of
constitutional democracy, the concept of
Separation of Powers, checks and balances and
parliamentary convention or they just simply do
not care if the present democracy in the country
survives or collapses in their blinded
determination to get Saraki and Ekweremadu by
all means necessary, including abuse of office
and sacking the Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria.
The Nigerian people have enough economic
hardship at this time requiring the full attention
and cooperation of the three arms of
government, instead of these attempts to distract
and politicise governance. We are in a state of
economic emergency such that what the
National Assembly needs at this time are
executive bills and proposals aimed at resolving
the crises of unemployment, currency
depreciation, inflation, crime and insecurity. What
the National Assembly needs now are executive
bills to build and strengthen institutions to earn
revenues, fight corruption and eliminate waste.
Instead, we are getting hostile actions aimed at
destabilising the National Assembly, distracting
Senators from their oversight functions and
ensuring good and accountable governance.
We must make it clear here to the individuals in
the Executive arm and party leadership behind
these plots not to mistake the maturity and hand
of co-operation being extended to the Presidency
by the legislature as a sign of weakness. The
National Assembly bent backwards to
accommodate various infractions and
inefficiencies in pursuit of inter-arms co-
operation and national interest. We did not follow
up the various infractions because we believe
there are bigger issues which the government
has to attend to in order to ensure that every
Nigerian have food on their table and in a secure
environment. We know that the country is
actually in a state of economic emergency and
all hands must be on deck.
This latest plot is directed at forcing a change of
leadership in the Senate or, in the extreme case,
ground the Red Chamber of the National
Assembly. Or how do one interpret a move in
which the two presiding officers are being set up
to be remanded in Kuje Prison or incapacitated
from sitting at plenary through a day-to-day
trial on a matter that is purely an internal affair
of the Senate.
This obviously is a dangerous case of violation
of the independence of the legislature, undue and
unnecessary interference in the internal affairs of
the Senate and blatant abuse of the judicial
process. 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.
This present efforts, 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. 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 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.
We therefore urge all Nigerians and the
International Community to rise up and condemn
this blatant attempt to subject the legislature to
the control, whims and caprices of the
executive. 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.

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