The senate has condemned the executive arm of government over what it called “impunity and lack of respect for due process.” In a statement signed by the chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the senate condemned a recent suit filed against the senate president, Bukola Saraki, deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, immediate past Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Ben Efeturi over allegations of forgery and criminal conspiracy.
Abdullahi said that the move to sue the lawmakers and national assembly staff was a threat to the nation’s democracy. “We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to please call his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to order. The Senate of the Federal Republic voted freely to elect its leadership into office and continuing attempts to change that leadership through the wanton abuse of judicial processes cannot stand in the eyes of the world,” the statement said.
The senate however is shying away from directly mentioning Pres. Buhari as the architect of the actions, instead blaming the Attorney General and “party leaders”, who it said “either lack the understanding of the underlining principles of constitutional democracy, the concept of Separation of Powers, checks and balances and parliamentary convention or they just simply do not care if the present democracy in the country survives or collapses in their blinded determination to get Saraki and Ekweremadu by all means necessary, including abuse of office and sacking the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Abdullahi warned “the individuals in the Executive arm and party leadership behind these plots not to mistake the maturity and hand of co-operation being extended to the Presidency by the legislature as a sign of weakness.” He said that the National Assembly bent backwards to accommodate various infractions and inefficiencies in pursuit of inter-arms co-operation and national interest.
The senate alleged that the suit against the two principal officers of the senate is aimed at forcing a change of leadership in the Senate or, in the extreme case, ground the Red Chamber of the National Assembly. “Or how do one interpret a move in which the two presiding officers are being set up to be remanded in Kuje Prison or incapacitated from sitting at plenary through a day-to-day trial on a matter that is purely an internal affair of the Senate,” he said.
Read the rest of the statement below:
The matter now being criminalised was brought to the plenary of the Senate in session, over a year ago. And because it had no support, it was overruled and roundly defeated in chambers. To now take a matter that was resolved on the floor of the Senate to the police and then make it form the subject of a criminal prosecution of freely elected legislators beats all imagination of free thinking men all over the world. The implication is that any matter that fails on the floor of the National Assembly will now be taken to the Police, thereby endangering every Senator and House member.
This current move clearly runs contrary to the Doctrine of Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances which are fundamental to the successful operation of the Presidential System of government. It runs counter to the principle outlined by the Supreme Court in the Adesanya Vs Senate case where it was held that nobody should seek to use the courts to achieve what he or she has failed to push through on the floor of the National Assembly.
This present efforts, therefore, is clearly a coup against the legislature with the ignoble aim to undermine its independence and subject the law making institution to the whims and caprices of the executive. It is a plan to return Nigeria to the dictatorial era which we have, as a nation, voted to reject.
It is a dangerous trend with grave implications for the survival of our democracy and the integrity of the component institutions. This rule of men as against the rule of law is also the reason why the War Against Corruption, one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration, is losing credibility because people perceive it to be selective and, in most cases, aimed at settling political or partisan scores.
The Rules of the Senate and how the institution elects its leadership are internal affairs. The Rules of a new Senate are provided by the National Assembly bureaucracy. It has always been so since 1999. After the inauguration of the Senate, if Senators have objections to any part of the Rules, they can follow the procedure for changing it.
Senators of the Eighth Senate have no control on the rules applied in the elections of June 9, 2015 because until after their inauguration, they were only Senators-elect, and therefore mere bystanders in the affairs of the Senate.
We therefore urge all Nigerians and the International Community to rise up and condemn this blatant attempt to subject the legislature to the control, whims and caprices of the executive. If the Legislative branch falls, democracy fails as there will be no other institution empowered by the Constitution to check and balance the enormous powers of the Executive branch. We also call on the judiciary as the last hope to save our constitutional democracy and stand up for the rule of law, by doing that which is right in this case.