Some persons, suspected to be bailiffs from the FCT High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, pasted to the Senate board the court summons, inviting the Presiding Officers of the Senate and two top management staff of the National Assembly, to appear before the court for the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order 2015.
The summons specifically directed the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; the outgoing Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa; and the Deputy Clerk, Benedict Efeturi, to make themselves available for the case, coming up on Monday next week.
The court order, sighted by one of our correspondents, read, “By oral application, dated June 21, 2016, moved by D. E. Kaswe, Principal State Counsel, Federal Ministry of Justice, in this case praying the court for:
“An order of this Honourable Court granting leave to the complainant/applicant to serve the criminal summons on the defendants by substituted means to wit by pasting it at the Notice Board of the National Assembly, Three Arms Zone, Abuja.
“And after hearing D. E. Kaswe with A. A. Kaltingo Esq, counsel for the complainant/applicant moved the court orally for the above relief.”
It was also observed that the handwritten statements of Maikasuwa and Efeturi as well as that of 13 other former senators, interrogated by the police, were also pasted along with the court summons.
In their own submissions to the police as contained in the document pasted to the board at the National Assembly, Maikasuwa and Efeturi denied being part of the alleged forgery of the document.
Maikashuwa said, “The Senate Standing Order used in Seventh Senate was not known to me. The Clerk of the Senate (Efeturi) is in position to know. I was not aware of the amendment that was made to the Standing rules.”
Efeturi said, “The Senate Leadership handled the 2015 Standing Rules as amended by their convention and practice. Standing Orders 2003, 2007 and 2011 followed similar practice.”
Our correspondent further noted that a Deputy Inspector-General of Police interrogated and obtained statements from 15 witnesses, including Senators Suleiman Hunkunyi, Solomon Enang, Solomon Ewuga, Ahmad Lawan, Abu Ibrahim and Babafemi Ojudu, on the issue.
Some Sergeant-at-Arms, however, besieged the notice board and removed all the court summons even when many people were still reading the documents.
Meanwhile, the Senate at plenary on Tuesday, after a two-hour closed session, summoned the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, over the planned prosecution of Saraki and Ekweremadu, for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order 2015.
The Senate took the decision following a motion moved by the Senator, representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, who relied on Orders 14 and 52, to demand the approval of his colleagues for his two prayers for the invitation of the AGF and the genuineness of the rule book.
The senate therefore, approved the two prayers through voice vote while Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, asked the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to summon Malami within 48 hours and interrogate him on the issue.
The red chamber mandated the committee to within two days summon the AGF to explain and justify with evidence the basis for his action.
The senators also directed the committee to find out from Malami whether his action did not constitute gross misconduct, incompetence, contempt of court and abuse of office.
Ekweremadu, after the resolution, said, “I don’t intend to say much because I’m involved. I just want to add that those who use their public office today to persecute others must realise that no condition is permanent.”
Melaye had, in the motion, said there was an imminent threat to the nation’s democracy relating to the alleged invitation of the principal officers by the court in Abuja.
He said, “I want to bring to the memory of this Senate and remind the executive arm of government that anything that is fake must have an original.
“We therefore begin to ask ourselves ‘where is the original of this counterfeit’ as suggested by this illegal persecution, because what is being done is not prosecution but persecution.
“If the rule is fake, then the budget we have received is also fake and illegal. I want to also remind the executive that this same rule is what we quoted when we responded to a communication from Mr President to have a joint session with the President of South Africa.
“This same rule is what we used in the screening of all the ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Attorney General of the Federation. This same rule, if it is fake, the position of the Attorney General, as the minister of justice, is also illegal.
“This same rule is what we used in passing that same budget that is now an Act of this parliament. If this rule, put together, we have considered it in receiving Mr. President on two different occasions, and Mr. President responded accordingly.
“Can this fake rule give birth to illegality of all we have done with it? I want to say we have no fake rule and I want to say that without fear of favour that what we used on June 9, 2015 was regularised on June 10, 2015, by the hazard of the 10th that was adopted as votes and proceedings.
“The people voted without any objection and that rule was adopted on the 10th of June by the resolution of this Senate in approving the votes and proceedings of this on June 9, 2015.
“This is to correct the very parochial and myopic and porous perception of those who want to divide this senate.
“May we never see that day when the legislature will become an appendage or department of the executive.”
Our correspondent also learnt that the PDP caucus in the upper chamber, after a 30-minute crucial closed-door meeting on Tuesday, resolved to withdraw their support for the Buhari administration if the alleged war against the legislature continued.
A member of the caucus, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, however, told journalists on Tuesday that the meeting would continue today (Wednesday) and that the group would address a news conference after.