The trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu for forgery of the Senate standing rulers, is not a trial for the Senate or the National Assembly as a body, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal has said.
He, therefore, advised the Senate leadership to stop dragging the legislature as an institution in their ongoing trial.
Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu were released on bail following their first appearance before a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday over two-count charge bordering on forgery and conspiracy.
The duo were charged alongside the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa and his deputy, Ben Efeturi.
In a statement he personally signed on Wednesday and issued to journalists in Abuja, Lawal said that a case of forgery is usually preferred against individuals, pointing out that such case of certificate forgery led to the resignation of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari.
Noting that bringing the National Assembly as a body into the new court case is unwarranted, the SGF said that such action can only be for other purposes and reasons outside the investigation and legal proceedings.
He said: “Since the arraignment of the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki and, his Deputy Senator Ike Ekweremadu before the Federal High Court on Monday, June 27, 2016, the two leaders of the Senate, have issued two separate press statements conveying messages that are far from being complementary to the person and government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Senator Saraki in his statement clearly insinuated that Mr. President is not in control of his administration and that a cabal now runs the federal administration. On the part of Senator Ekweremadu, he insists that President Buhari is exhibiting dictatorial tendencies that can derail our democracy.
“From their statements, the two leaders of the Senate also gave this erroneous impression that by their arraignment, it is the entire Senate and indeed, the Legislative Arm of Government that is on trial.
“They want the public to believe that their prosecution is utter disregard by the Executive Arm of government for the constitutional provisions of separation of powers and that preferring the forgery case against them is a vendetta exercise”.
Since the case is in court, Mr. Lawal said that the Judiciary should be allowed to do its job, adding that the case only involves the four accused persons and should not be presented to the unsuspecting public as involving the entire Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The complaint leading to the forgery investigation was reported to the Police by some aggrieved Senators who specifically accused certain persons.
“It is not the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is involved and definitely not the House of Representatives. To bring the National Assembly as a body into this court case is totally unwarranted. It can only be for other purposes and reasons outside the investigation and legal proceedings.
“A case of forgery is usually preferred against individuals. This is not different. As was the case with a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who was accused of certificate forgery, what he did was to resign, honorably. The matter did not even go to court.
“In that particular case, it was never orchestrated as a matter for the National Assembly. The individual involved did not drag the entire Legislature into the matter”, he said
Mr. Lawal maintained that the separate statements by Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu were contradictory.
He said: “While Senator Saraki believes Mr. President has abdicated his powers and that a cabal is in charge of Federal Administration, Senator Ekweremadu says President Buhari has become a dictator.
“Our democracy is still evolving and being deepened. The provisions of the separation of powers are entrenched in our Constitution and should guide everyone in our conduct. The rule of law is indeed supreme.
“This particular case is before the judiciary and is not being decided by the Executive Arm of Government. All that has transpired is still within the confines of our laws. These are the rights to accuse, to be investigated and be arraigned before the court.
“To impute other considerations to the process is unfortunate. We should allow the process to take its course, in consonance with the dictates of the law and total obeisance to the cardinal democratic principle of the separation of powers”, he stated.