The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal, has thrown himself into the fray in respect of the alleged forgery trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
Lawal said on Wednesday that the Senate is not on trial for forgery, but that only the actors in the alleged act, the Senate President, his Deputy and two others are being prosecuted.
He also said the honourable thing for the duo to do is to resign as former Speaker of the House of Representatives who was accused of certificate forgery, Salisu Buhari, did.
The SGF was reacting to the allegation by Saraki that a “cabal” had hijacked the government of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as Ekweremadu’s statement that Buhari was exhibiting dictatorial tendencies.
In a statement personally signed by him, Lawal said the positions of the Senate leaders were contradictory. He also described their statements as unfortunate, stating that the federal government was not deciding the trial of the duo.
Saraki and Ekweremadu are being tried before an FCT High Court for allegedly forging the Senate Standing Rules 2015. The other accused persons are former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and his former deputy, Bernard Ifeturi..
Lawal stated that a case of forgery is usually preferred against individuals, recalling that such case of certificate forgery led to the resignation of one-time Speaker of the House of Representatives who honourably resigned, Mr. Salisu Buhari. He said bringing the National Assembly as a body into the court case is unwarranted.
The statement reads in part: “Since the arraignment of the president of the senate, Senator Bukola Saraki and, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu before the federal high court on Monday, June 27, 2016, the two leaders of the senate, have issued two separate press statements conveying messages that are far from being complementary to the person and government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Senator Saraki in his statement clearly insinuated that Mr President is not in control of his administration and that a cabal now runs the federal administration. On the part of Senator Ekweremadu, he insists that President Buhari is exhibiting dictatorial tendencies that can derail our democracy.
“From their statements, the two leaders of the senate also gave this erroneous impression that by their arraignment, it is the entire senate and indeed, the legislative arm of government that is on trial. They want the public to believe that their prosecution is utter disregard by the executive arm of government for the constitutional provisions of separation of powers and that preferring the forgery case against them is a vendetta exercise.
“Since this case is in court, the judiciary should be allowed to do its job. However, it is important to emphasise that this case involves only the four accused persons and should not be presented to the unsuspecting public as involving the entire senate of the federal republic of Nigeria.
“The complaint leading to the forgery investigation was reported to the police by some aggrieved senators who specifically accused certain persons. It is not the senate of the federal republic of Nigeria that is involved and definitely not the house of representatives. To bring the national assembly as a body into this court case is totally unwarranted. It can only be for other purposes and reasons outside the investigation and legal proceedings.
“A case of forgery is usually preferred against individuals. This is not different. As was the case with a former speaker of the house of representatives, who was accused of certificate forgery, what he did was to resign, honourably. The matter did not even go to court. In that particular case, it was never orchestrated as a matter for the national assembly. The individual involved did not drag the entire legislature into the matter.
“Meanwhile, the separate statements by the Senate president and his deputy are indeed contradictory. While Senator Saraki believes Mr President has abdicated his powers and that a cabal is in charge of federal administration, Senator Ekweremadu says President Buhari has become a dictator.
“Our democracy is still evolving and being deepened. The provisions of the separation of powers are entrenched in our constitution and should guide everyone in our conduct. The rule of law is indeed supreme. This particular case is before the judiciary and is not being decided by the executive arm of government.
“All that has transpired is still within the confines of our laws. These are the rights to accuse, to be investigated and be arraigned before the court. To impute other considerations to the process is unfortunate. We should allow the process to take its course, in consonance with the dictates of the law and total obeisance to the cardinal.”