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Senators tackle Buhari over Saraki, Ekweremadu ‘forgery’ charges

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The Senate, on Tuesday, summoned the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to “explain and justify with evidence” the basis for the criminal charges of conspiracy and forgery against its presiding officers, Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu.

The resolution of the Senate, after an executive session that held for close to two hours, followed a motion by Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West).

The federal government is accusing Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu as well as a former clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, of forging the Senate Rules used for the election of the presiding officers June 9, last year.

On Sunday, the Senate, in a statement through its spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi, said the Buhari administration was bent on forcing a leadership change in the Senate by, first, “muzzling the legislature and criminalizing legislative processes”.

This was reiterated by Mr. Melaye on Tuesday, in his presentation, when he alleged that the forgery suit amounted to “grand design to silence” the National Assembly by the Buhari Administration and “enthrone one man rule”.

He warned of “impending danger to democracy”, noting alleged “defiant decision” of Mr. Malami in disregard of Federal High Court ruling which he said had upheld the right of the Senate to regulate its internal affairs.

He said all the Senators were given the Standing Rules used for the June 9, 2015 election two days earlier and on June 10, 2015, the Senate passed votes and proceedings of the previous day.

By passing the votes and proceedings, Mr. Melaye said that meant the standing rules had been endorsed by the senators as valid and authentic.

“Our Rule is not fake,” he said.

While “creating crimes where there is none”, Mr. Melaye said the Buhari Administration was not paying attention to myriad of problems facing the country.

He said the same allegedly forged rules had been used for the screening of ministers, including the AGF, and for treating presidential communications, and for the passage of the 2016 budget.

In his contribution, Albert Bassey (PDP-Akwa Ibom) said “power comes from God. The emergence of Bukola Saraki is a reflection of the reasoning of the majority. It’s time to rise in defence of democracy.”

Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP-Delta State) said he was not sent to legislate by fear or be controlled by Executive. We never did that, adding that “there is an attempt to strangulate the legislature”.

“Enough is enough,” said Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu State). “Why should the internal affairs of the senate be worry of somebody outside?”

Isa Misau (APC-Bauchi Central) queried the process of the police investigation and the eventual prosecution.

Mr. Misau, a retired police officer, said the police had to invite both complainant and those against whom complaint is made before approaching court.

“I am scared for Nigeria and the president. AGF is being sponsored by other group somewhere,” he said. “There’s is calculated attempt to derail this democracy. The interference we are getting is to bring down image of the president. Many things are happening. We must on the stand on the path of justice and truth.”

Kabir Gobir (Sokoto East) also said, “I totally and 100 per cent support this motion”.

He continued, “We should be allowed to choose our own leaders. If anybody is against what we did on June 9, that’s his own problem. The following day we approved the votes and proceeding which means we agreed with what we did.

In its resolutions, the Senate summoned Mr. Malami to justify the court action against its leaders, and if his action does not amount to gross abuse of office.

It also resolved that its Standing Rules was not fake or forged.

In his remarks after the resolutions were passed, Mr. Ekweremadu said, “I won’t say much because I am also involved. But let me say those who are using their offices to persecute others should remember no condition is permanent”.

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