The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on Sunday said he was never invited for questioning by the police over alleged forgery of Senate rules.
The lawmaker expressed surprise at the lawsuit filed by the Federal Government against him and other suspected conspirators.
The Nigerian government charged Mr. Ekweremadu alongside Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, to court for allegedly forging the Standing Rules that was used to elect the Senate presiding officers last June.
The charges were filed on June 9, exactly a year after the controversial election and inauguration of the two principal officers.
Acting on a petition filed by Suleiman Hunkuyi, the senator representing Kaduna North District on behalf of the Unity Forum, a group of senators opposed to Saraki and Ekweremadu’s election, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, ordered an investigation.
In the petition, Senator Hunkuyi alleged that the Standing Rules used for the June 9 presiding officers’ election was forged and accused the four officials of conspiracy.
Following the submission of its report to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Federal Government formally accused the quartet and pressed criminal charges of offence of conspiracy punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law; and offence of forgery with “fraudulent intent” punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code Law, against them.
Reacting to the charges, Mr. Ekweremadu, in a statement on Sunday by his spokesperson, Uche Anichukwu, denied complicity in the alleged forgery, and described the suit as “a form of intimidation and onslaught to rubbish him”.
“The hands of Sen Ike Ekweremadu are clean because he has no business whatsoever with the production of Senate Standing Orders”, said the statement.
“This is the latest attempt to try and convict him in the court of public opinion, notwithstanding that we do not want to mount a public defence.
“We would rather meet them in court if they so wish.
“We plead with our supporters across the nation to maintain the peace and go about their normal businesses unperturbed by this latest act of harassment and impunity.
“We want to reassure them that no form of intimidation and onslaught to rubbish him will make him shy away from diligently carrying out the constitutional duties.
“Ekweremadu will not legislate in fear, and he will certainly not fear to legislate”, the statement further added.
Expressing surprise, the deputy Senate president said neither he nor Mr. Saraki was invited by the police or indicted in the report to Mr. Malami, querying why charges should be pressed against them.
According to him, in July 2015, the police spokesperson told “the world (and it is on record)” that the agency did not invite him for questioning and that the Force did not at any time question him over “the so-called forged Senate Standing Orders”.
“We are, therefore, as surprised as other Nigerians at the current twists and turns by the same police one year after and also after they had since submitted to the Attorney General of the Federation, their investigation report, which neither indicted nor even made the slightest mention of Senator Ike Ekweremadu. Moreso that the petitioners never named Ekweremadu in their petition in the first instance”, his spokesman said.
“We wish to state that we read the reports of the so-called police invitation and charges allegedly preferred against Senator Ekweremadu; the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki; and others on the pages of the newspapers like other Nigerian.
“Even as we try to reconcile the reports of the simultaneous police invitation and court processes, nobody has, till date, served the Deputy President of the Senate any letter of invitation by the police or court summons.
“The Office or person of the Deputy President of the Senate is not in the moon. The concerned authorities know how and where to reach Senator Ekweremadu if they want to. But, so far, everything remains in the realms of the usual propaganda onslaught to malign, bully, intimidate, and divert attention from the real challenges presently confronting the nation. However, when the bird jerks in the air, we can fathom where it would perch”, the statement concluded.