The Senate Tuesday threatened to invoke necessary legislative powers including arrest warrant, to ensure that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Ababukar Malami, appears before it.
The resolution followed a briefing by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru, to the effect that the Minister failed to honour the invitation of his committee.
With tempers on the rise over Malami’s perceived disrespect of the National Assembly, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said that the Senate would be guided by Constitutional provisions to deal with the AGF if he failed once again to honour the invitation of the upper legislative chamber.
Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution attached to the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, had about two weeks ago, told the committee that it lacked the power to summon Malami since he (AGF) was not an appointee of the Senate.
The Senate had summoned the minister to explain the reason behind the prosecution of Mr. Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, over alleged forgery of the Senate standing rules.
Obono-Obla, who represented the AGF at a sitting of the committee, insisted before he was walked out of the meeting that Malami did not commit any offence by prosecuting the Senate’s presiding officers.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate) Matters, Senator Ita Enang, has since apologized for the comment by the AGF’s representative, saying he (Obono-Obla) he spoke out of ignorance.
Umaru who came under personal explanation said: “The resolution of the Senate was for the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to invite the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to appear before it and explain the reason behind attempts to prefer charges against the principal officers of this hallowed chamber.
“In line with the directive, we invited the Honourable Attorney General, first on the 23rd of June and on that date he did not appear but a letter was received by our committee to the effect that he needed more time to articulate its position and that he was out of the country.
“The committee obliged him, we scheduled another meeting for the 30th of June, on that day, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice did not appear before the committee.
“However, somebody who claimed to be Mr. Obla appeared to say that he was appearing on behalf of the minister.
“The committee therefore told him that he was not an invitee and that we will not attend to him and we asked him to leave.
“I have being informed by Senator Ita Enag (Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters) and I have received lots of attempts to reach me by the Hon. Attorney General. Senator Ita Enag have informed me that the Attorney General regrets his inability to respond to our petition and that he requests time to appear before us.
“I think it is important for the distinguished colleagues to be informed about this development and for us to request for more time to give him the opportunity to appear since he has indicated his willingness to appear before the committee”.
Saraki, who did not allow debate of the matter, insisted that the AGF must appear before the committee in line with the resolution of the Senate.
He noted that failure to comply with the resolution of the Senate to appear before the committee, would necessitate the use of constitutional measures to enforce the resolution.
The Senate President noted that they would have no choice than to follow strictly what he Constitution dictates if the AGF failed to honour the invitation.
Saraki said, “We all heard the explanation of the chairman Judiciary. What he is trying to get across to us here is to tell us the status of the situation because what we have been reading in the papers was of great concern where the number one judicial officer of the country will be the one that will be flouting the Constitution.
“Section 89 (c) of the Constitution is very clear. But it appears from what you are saying that the Attorney General is requesting for one more chance to be given to appear before you.
“The Senate is always in the progress of development; as such we will do that and ensure that he does come this time.
“Otherwise, we will have no choice than to follow the constitution strictly.
“So, you will report back to us before the end of the week to let us know the status of that situation.
“If that does not happen, we will go ahead and go in line with the Constitution very clearly”.