•Ekweremadu takes battle to UN, US, UK, EU others
From Fred Itua and Oluwole Farotimi
The Senate yesterday sustained its battle with the executive as it issued a fresh summon on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, to appear before it to explain why a legal action was instituted against Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
Senate had first summoned Malami last week, following a motion moved by Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, who relied on order 14 and 52, to demand the approval of his colleagues for his two prayers including the invitation of the AGF and the genuineness of the rule book.
Malami was billed to appear before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, but did not show up, but sent a letter stating his reasons for his absence.
The Senate panel in its fresh summon, the second in eight days, dated June 27 and signed by its chairman, David Umaru, asked Malami to appear before it on Thursday, by noon
The letter was received at the AGF office yesterday.
It read: “I write with reference to your (AGF) correspondence on the above subject matter with Ref HAGF/NASS/ZOIG/Vol.1/24, dated 23rd June, 2016, whereby you requested for an adjournment of the meeting of the committee, which was supposed to hold on Thursday, June 23, 2016, to enable you prepare your response.
“The committee has considered your request and having regard to the reason adduced, acceded to the request for an adjournment. Accordingly, the meeting is now scheduled to hold on Thursday 30th June 2016 at 12 noon prompt.
“The venue is Senate Meeting Room 31.3, 3rd Floor, New Senate Building, National Assembly Complex.
“You are by this letter invited to appear before the mentioned place above.”
The senate is reportedly miffed that the AGF decided to revisit the matter after Justice Gabriel Kolawole of Abuja High Court had adjudicated and ruled that the issue is an internal affair of the Red Chamber.
Saraki, Ekweremadu, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeturi were on Monday arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja, on charges of forging the Senate Standing Rules with which they conducted the election that brought them into office as principal officers.
Soon after they were arraigned and granted bail Saraki and Ekweremadu released separate statements, accusing the presidency of a plot to destabilize the legislature and enforce a leadership change through the back door, an allegation the presidency instantly denied.
Again, Ekweremadu released a letter yesterday describing his arraignment as a grand plot to truncate Nigeria’s democracy and silence him as the leader and highest ranking member of the opposition in the country.
In the letter to the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), United States’ Congress, EU Parliament, governments of United States, United Kingdom and other foreign missions, entitled: “Re: Trumped up charges against the presiding officers of the 8th Senate: Nigerian democracy is in grave danger,” restated his innocence while accusing the presidency of with-hunt.
He said his travail was political vendetta and insisted that neither his name nor that of Saraki featured either in the petition by the aggrieved members of the Senate Unity Forum (SUF) or during the investigation of the petition by the police:
“I wish to forward to you the court summons containing the trumped up charges preferred against my person, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and two others.
“I also wish to appeal to you to kindly find time to read through the annexures- petition by members of the Senate Unity Forum, statements by persons interrogated, and the police report to see if our names appeared anywhere in these documents.
“You may, thereafter, judge for yourself whether the Federal Government, acting through the Attorney-General of the Federation, has any justification whatsoever to generate our names for trial. The list of the accused persons appears to have been politically generated because you cannot by the documents attached, relate any of our names to the offence for which we are now being charged.
“Moreover, the rules and principles of fair hearing have not been adhered to because the police have not interacted with me or the President of the Senate as at the time of writing this letter.
“You may also wish to judge for yourself whether this trial orchestrated against me is not a political trial, calculated witch-hunt, barefaced intimidation, and a clear attempt to emasculate the parliament and silence me as the leader and highest ranking member of the opposition in Nigeria.”
Hearing in the case continues on July 11.
Meanwhile, a group, the Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM) flayed the allegation by Saraki that the Buhari-led administration has been hijacked by a cabal within his government.
In a statement signed by Nelson Ekujumi, the CPPM said the statement was “embarrassing, irresponsible, barbaric, reckless, inciting, cheap blackmail and an assault on the exalted office of the leadership of the legislature which is the bastion of our democracy.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is imperative to make it clear to all discerning minds that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly spells out the functions of the three arms of government in a democracy in which the powers to prosecute against any infraction of the law is vested in the executive without fear or favour.”