The Senate on Friday reacted to Federal Government’s decision to withdraw the forgery suit instituted against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, reiterating its belief that the case was politically-motivated as the executive cannot determine for it the genuineness or otherwise of the Senate Standing Rules.
Same day that Saraki and Ekweremadu described the verdict of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory dismissing the charges of forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 against them and ordering their subsequent discharge as a welcome development and a vindication of their position from the beginning of the case that they are innocent of the accusations leveled against them.
The Federal Government had through a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme, filed an affidavit in support of the motion before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory calling for the charge of criminal conspiracy and forgery of senate standing order against the duo to be dropped.
Reacting to this development, the Senate stated that the forgery case against its presiding officers had been a distraction to the law making body and that the withdrawal is a confirmation of its position that the nation cannot afford any sharp division between the various arms of government.
In a statement by its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, it maintained that the decision to withdraw the case and its subsequent dismissal as well as the discharge of the defendants has confirmed its earlier position that the case was indeed an abuse of court process having been dismissed earlier by the court.
According to Abdullahi, “We have always said it that that case was politically motivated. The executive cannot decide for the legislature the genuineness or otherwise of its standing rules. However, where there is a crack in the wall, it is easy for others to capitalize on the differences between us. Now that Senators have closed their ranks, the executive is only taking the right cue.
“We are happy with this development. We believe it is a sign of good things to come. It is a victory for democracy. A victory for separation of powers, checks and balances and constitutionalism.
“We commend the judiciary for its continuous dedication and commitment to the rule of law in our democracy. We restate our confidence in their ability to adjudicate and dispense justice in all matters in the polity which no doubt greatly contribute to national productivity. Our commendation also goes to the Federal Ministry of Justice for being courageous enough to do the right thing.
“We however call on the government to go the whole hog and withdraw other cases with political coloration. This is a period for the political leadership to present a united front. There is an emergency in the country. The economy is in crisis. This has resulted in escalating and excruciating poverty among our people. Social problems are on the rise. There are conflicts across the country. National values are being eroded. Crucial Infrastructure and social services are collapsing. These are the things that should pre-occupy our minds, especially now that our economy is in recession.
“The International community will take us more seriously when they see that everybody in the national leadership is speaking along the same line of solving the economic problem, encouraging productivity, creating employment, promoting discipline and working to make our country great.
“For us in the Senate, the assignment of nation building continues. We will, as always re-dedicate ourselves to serve the nation for the benefit of our citizens. We assure our people that we will always protect their interests and like the Senate President said when we resumed a few weeks ago, our major pre-occupation now is to get the economy back on its feet again.”
For Saraki and Ekweremadu, the court decision aligns with their earlier position that the case lacked any merit and that the charge of forgery of the Senate rule filed against them can never be substantiated by any fact.
In a statement signed on their behalf by the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, both presiding officers described the case as a “politically-induced distraction” which came at a time when all hands must be on deck to solve the problem of economic recession biting the people, destroying homes and creating severe social disorientation in communities.
They however acknowledged that the Federal Government finally displayed courage and strength of character in halting the unnecessary waste of precious time of both parties by agreeing with the defence team that the case lacks merit and therefore should be discontinued.
According to them, “We express appreciation to all our colleagues in the Senate for their solid support and understanding while the case lasted. We also thank other parliamentarians in and out of the country and the international community as a whole for the consistent solidarity they displayed to us and their belief in our genuine cause since the commencement of the case.
“Our gratitude goes to our legal team, family members, friends, supporters, civil society organisations, members of the bar, the media and the generality of the people, many of who came out to add their voice to the fact that what the nation needs at this period of economic crisis is not a distraction or any show of division but a clear signal that all arms of government are ready to co-operate with one another to find solutions to the nation’s economic recession.
“We believe much time has been wasted in pursuing this needless case and we hope that the same treatment will be extended to other politically-motivated cases. It is also hoped that from now on, the various arms of government will be allowed to devote all the available time and resources to working on the problems confronting the country and finding solutions that will lead to higher standards of living for the majority of the people of Nigeria.
“At this point, what the country needs is a strong economy where a very large percentage of those who are willing to work can be productively engaged; where there is solid infrastructure, where the atmosphere brings the best out of the people and where all are able to realize their full potential. We pledge to work for Nigeria to achieve all these.”