Constitutional lawyer and former National Secretary of Labour Party, Mr. Kayole Ajulo, has said the Senate has no constitutional right to summon the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, over the prosecution of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, over the alleged forgery of Senate Rule Book.
The Senate had invited Malami to come and explain why he is instituting the forgery case against Saraki, Ekweremadu, the former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, and his former deputy, Bernard Efeturi, over the forgery of Senate Rule 2011 in the election of principal officers of the Senate.
Responding to the summon, Ajulo said: “I read with great amusement that the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, has once again been summoned by the Nigerian Senate to appear before it on Thursday 30th June, 2016, through its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, for instituting a forgery case against the presiding officers of the Upper Chamber, and two top management staff of the National Assembly.
“The invitation is utterly unbecoming, in my view. It is a sheer flagrant abuse of the separation of powers principle under our known laws. For the records, this matter is equally prejudicial. With a very strong caveat, members of Nigerian parliament should come out of their infantile viewpoint and know when to cross the line.
“I wonder why Senator David Umaru-led Committee would have allowed itself to be used to cause infraction on matters that are purely beyond the Senate and that is presently being prosecuted in the court of competent jurisdiction.
“Putting my unbiased position into a broader perspective, the powers of the Senate to conduct investigation is broad and inherent in the legislative process as recognised by laws. That being said, broad and inherent as this power of inquiry could be, they are still bound by limitations as the Senate cannot constitutes itself into the police or a trial court.
“Consequently, investigation conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to “punish” those investigated is indefensible and cannot stand.
“Retrospectively, in GUARDIAN NEWSPAPERS LTD V. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION (1999) 9 NWLR (Pt. 618) 187 at PP 249-250 the Supreme Court spelt out the oversight and investigative function of legislators and its limitation by holding that the legislative’s power to investigate is not absolute as it has some legal impediments.
“In TONY MOMOH V. SENATE OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (1982) NCLR, 105, the Court of Appeal clearly held that Section 82 of the 1979 Constitution (akin to Section 88 of the 1999 constitution) is not designed to enable the legislature usurp the general investigating functions of the Executive nor the adjudicative functions of the judiciary. Any invitation by the legislature to any person outside the purpose defined by Section 82(2) that is now 88 (2) of the 1999 constitution is invalid.
“Also in OBAYUWANA V. ALLI & ORS (1983) 12 SC147 at 191-192, EL-RUFAI V. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (2003)12 WRN I (SC) it held that the power of investigation by the legislature cannot be invoked to apply to issues that are outside the purview of the legislature in the exercise of the power to make law.
“Today in Nigeria, it is an open secret that the Senate’s oversight power has attracted some level of abuse.
Not only that lawmakers see the function as a way of enriching themselves and aiding personal aggrandizement. They also use same to intimidate and harass their foes to bow to pressure for pecuniary gains.
“The case involving the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekeremadu and two others is well known and for those who may not know, Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation is perfectly in order with his conducts and actions on the matter.
“Saraki, Ekweremadu and others have been summoned and docked before Justice Yusuf Haliru over their alleged complicity in forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015. Though they pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against them by the federal government.
“Subsequently the High Court, granted bail to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and two other accused persons; Salisu Maikasuwa, former clerk of the national assembly, and Benedict Efeturi, deputy clerk of the legislature and the trial adjourned till July 11, 2016.
“Our lawmakers should know the position of the law better and act honourably with regards to interfering on a matter that is before the court. They therefore need not be so hasty with the intent to jeopardise the outcome of the matter which is before, and to be decided by a Court of competent jurisdiction.
“I therefore urge the AGF, Mallam Abubakar Malami, to discountenance the invitation and threat of Senator David Umaru-led Committee on the matter under reference and continue to pursue his duties as provided by the laws of the land”.
“He should also note on the legal point of view that no person or group of persons can intimidate his office under the guise of ‘legislative oversight’, such shenanigan must be treated with disdain”.