Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu has written to the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and governments of the United States and United Kingdom, alleging attempts by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to truncate Nigeria’s democracy.
Also copied in the letter were the United States Congress and European Union (EU) Parliament.
This is just as the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami is expected to appear before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters tomorrow, where he is likely to face questions on his decision to prosecute Senate President Bukola Saraki, Ekweremadu and four others for allegedly forging the Senate rules.
He is also likely to be grilled on the conflict of interest arising from his involvement in the same case a year ago, when he represented Saraki’s opponents in the Senate in his private capacity as a lawyer.
In the two-paged letter, titled “Re: Trumped up Charges Against the Presiding Officers of the Eighth Senate: Nigerian Democracy is in Grave Danger”, Ekweremadu insisted that Buhari’s government wants to silence him as the highest ranking opposition leader in the country by prosecuting him for alleged forgery.
Ekweremadu also attached to his letter, copies of the court summons and other relevant documents relating to the charge.
He urged the international community to go through the documents and determine if the trial was justifiable or one purely borne out of political vendetta.
He insisted that neither his name nor that of Saraki featured in the petition by members of the Senate Unity Forum (SUF) or during the investigation of the petition by the Nigeria Police.
He alleged that he was denied fair hearing in the matter, adding that the police did not interact with him before he was charged to court.
He urged the international community to determine if the trial was not politically motivated, a witch-hunt, barefaced intimidation and an attempt to emasculate him.
“You may further wish to judge for yourself whether this unfolding scenario, coupled with the clampdown on the opposition, such as targeted arrests and indefinite detention of opposition figures and dissenting voices in spite of court pronouncements and in clear violation of the Nigerian Constitution, as well as the sustained marginalisation of the South-east and South-south geopolitical zones of Nigeria, do not constitute a grave danger to the nation’s hard-won democracy,” he said.
The letter added: “I wish to forward to you the court summons containing the trumped up charges preferred against my person; the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Senator Bukola Saraki, CON; and two others.
“I also wish to appeal to you to kindly find time to read through the annexures – petition by members of the Senate Unity Forum, statements by persons interrogated, and the police report – to see if we appeared anywhere in these documents.
“You may, thereafter, judge for yourself whether the federal government, acting through the Attorney-General of the Federation, has any justification whatsoever to generate our names for trial.
“The list of the accused persons appear to have been politically generated because you cannot by the documents attached, relate any of our names to the offence for which we are now being charged.
“Moreover, the rules and principles of fair hearing have not been adhered to because the police have not interacted with neither me nor the President of the Senate as at the time of writing this letter.
“You may also wish to judge for yourself whether this trial orchestrated against me is not a political trial, calculated witch-hunt, barefaced intimidation, and a clear attempt to emasculate the parliament and silence me as the leader and highest ranking member of the opposition in Nigeria.
“Meanwhile, it would also be recalled that an attempt was made on my life on November 17, 2015. The Nigerian security agencies did nothing, even though the incident was duly reported. This is for your information and reflection.”
When contacted on the letter written by Ekweremadu to the international community, the president’s media aide Femi Adesina said the presidency would not comment on the Deputy Senate President’s letter.
Saraki, Ekweremadu and two others were arraigned by the federal government on Monday for allegedly forging the Senate rules that were used in the elections through which they emerged Senate President and Deputy Senate President, respectively, in June last year.
All four pleaded not guilty and were granted bail by the High Court, Abuja.
Since the news of their prosecution broke, the already fragile relationship between the presidency and Senate has taken a turn for the worse.
The presidency has never hidden its displeasure over the emergence of Saraki as Senate President, in defiance to the preferred choice of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Saraki defied the wishes of his party to become senate president by aligning with senators of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who insisted they would only support his candidacy for the post if Ekweremadu was elected his deputy.