The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has insisted that the senate president, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu must face the charges of forgery and corruption brought against them.
The minister, on Thursday, through a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Salihu Isah, reacted to allegations made by the Senate insinuating that the charges against the Senate President and his deputy was tantamount to a coup on the legislative arm of the government.
Saraki and Ekweremadu are accused of allegedly forging the Senate standing rules which aided the emergence of both of them as principal officers of the House.
On June 19, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, had alleged that the forgery case amounted to “an unconstitutional violation of principles of separation of powers, checks and balances.”
The minister however, said the allegation was “totally untrue and baseless” even as he disclosed that he acted within his powers under Section 174 of the Constitution and that the charges preferred against the accused persons were based on the recommendations of the Inspector-General of Police.
Malami also said the matter was beyond an internal issue in the senate.
Saraki, Ekweremadu alongside two others will stand before Justice Yusuf Halilu of a Federal High Court in Abuja on June 27 on two counts of criminal conspiracy and forgery of the Senate Standing Rules.
The other accused persons are a former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and former Deputy Clerk and current Clerk of the National Assembly, Bernard Efeturi.
The Minister’s statement reads in part, “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 enjoy 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 persons for alleged forgery after a thorough police investigation of the issue, whether there was an amendment to the Senate Standing Rules in 2015 or not.”
“The case of Adesanya vs Senate, which has been seriously touted in its (Senate) press statement does not support them and they should rather take their plea and defend the action accordingly.”