The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has asked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, to save their arguments on the alleged forgery of Senate Standing Order last June for the court.
The minister said this in a statement today.
The statement signed by his media aide, Salihu Isah, described as unfortunate Senate’s interpretation of the move as being targeted at leadership change at the upper legislative chamber.
Saraki, Ekweremadu and two others are expected to be arraigned on Monday June 27 on criminal charges of forgery of the Senate Standing Rule in June last year.
Malami’s statement reads:
“The attention of the attorney-general of the federation has been drawn to a press statement by the senate, signed by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, chairman, senate committee on media and affairs, on June 19,” Malami’s statement read. The statement entitled: ‘Forgery Case, An Unconstitutional Violation of Principles of Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances’, was published in some national dailies and social media platforms. It is quite unfortunate that the senate construed move of the federal government as a coup against the legislature with a view to cause a leadership change in the national assembly. It is worthy to note here that the action of the Attorney General of the Federation can stand the test of any law since he did not act on a vacuum. He acted based on a recommendation by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who having fully satisfied investigative procedure arising from the petition sent to the Nigerian Police by some aggrieved members of the Red Chambers of the National Assembly alleging that the affected officers altered the rules of the Senate for Dr. Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu to emerge leaders of the Eighth Senate of the National Assembly. Under the 1999 Constitution, only the Attorney General of the Federation has the powers to institute criminal proceedings. For the benefit of doubt, as stated above, there was a petition bordering on allegations of forgery against the defendants, the petition was investigated by the police and the police recommended the case for prosecution. At this point, the question is how initiation of criminal proceedings against Dr Bukola Saraki, Ike Ekweremadu, Salisu Maikasuwa and Bernard Efeturi violated the principle of separation of powers as contained in the Constitution? The action of the Attorney General of the Federation cannot obviously be said to be a coup against the National Assembly as the Senate has claimed. By preferring the charge, the accused persons are entitled to fair hearing under the law while the prosecution is obligated to prove its case against them beyond reasonable doubts. Therefore, the Attorney General of the Federation has not violated any known law in the land. Or is the Senate suggesting that its principal officers, members and staff of the National Assembly are above the law or enjoys same immunity as do the nation’s President and Governors? It is common knowledge over the years since the nation embraced democratic system of governance and backed by the current Constitution those elected officers of government who are exempted from legal encumbrances whether it is civil or criminal are known to all. It is pertinent to be reminded too, that forgery of the Senate Standing Rules cannot be described as the internal business of the National Assembly that is exclusively only in its purview. The Attorney General of the Federation cannot therefore be faulted for his decision to initiate legal actions against the accused for alleged forgery after a thorough police investigation of the issue whether there was an amendment of the Senate Standing Rules in 2015 or not. The case of Adesanya vs Senate which has been seriously touted in its press statement does not support them and they should rather take their plea and defend the action accordingly. We assure Nigerians that the Attorney General of the Federation will continue to be committed to the rule of law at all times. On this particular forgery case, we believe he should rather be commended for his foresight and political will to carry out his constitutional role to the letter and not to be vilified under any guise.”