Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday, washed his hands clean of any involvement in the allegation that the rules adopted in the election of principal officers of the Senate were forged.
He said he was not part of Senate Leadership as of June 9 2015.
Saraki said the on-going efforts to drag him into a case of forgery before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court was just another phase in the orchestrated persecution he has faced since he emerged as Senate President.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki he was not a part of the leadership of the Seventh Senate that made the rules in question and prior to his unanimous election as Senate President on June 9, 2015, he was merely a Senator-elect like all his colleagues, and, therefore, was not in a position to influence the rules that were to be used in the conduct of the election.
“The Police in their investigation were conscious that the incumbent Senate President was not in office prior to June 9, 2015 and that was why in their letters inviting some individuals for their investigation, they only mentioned officers of the 7th Senate. The last of the letters was written to the Clerk of the National Assembly on June 7, 2016 and he was not among those invited.
“Those who decided to smuggle the name of the Senate President into the charge sheet after the fact knew perfectly well that only the leadership of the 7th Senate were invited for investigation. But they needed to implicate him in keeping with their declared vow to ensure that even if their current efforts to nail him through the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) fail, they would find other ways to carry out their vendetta.
“This so-called forgery case is another wanton abuse of the judicial process and making a mockery of the institution of justice. As the Senate earlier stated, the sponsors of this plot are not only gunning for Dr. Saraki, what they have just launched with this latest antics is a grand onslaught on the foremost institution of our democracy. The only institutional difference between dictatorship and democracy is the presence of the legislature. Therefore, by seeking to cripple the National Assembly, they have declared a war on our hard-won democracy and aimed for the very jugular of our freedom.
“Let us restate the fact that the Senators, who initiated the Police investigation in the first place, had raised the same matter on the floor and were overwhelmingly overruled. They also filed a civil suit and were told by the court that neither the judiciary nor the executive can interfere in the internal affairs of the legislative arm.
“The Senate President recognises the sundry problems bedeviling our nation today – food insecurity, devaluation of the Naira, inflation, unemployment, failing national infrastructure, insurgency in the North-eastern part of the country, restiveness in the oil producing areas, and general insecurity, among others – and believes that finding solutions to them should be the priority, at this period, for every individual in government, not the pursuit of narrow political objectives. That is why these needless distractions will do nobody any good. In fact, it will not help in delivering on the promise of bringing positive change to the lives of our people who voted for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last elections.
“The Senate President does not see what value this current attempt to shut down the Senate by dragging its presiding officers before a court for a phantom allegation of forgery will add to the attempts to solve the problems confronting the nation.
“Dr. Saraki will, however, explore all legal options necessary to ward off this fresh case of persecution and distraction”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, Saraki has asked a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to set aside the charge preferred against him by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation over allegation of forgery.
He described the charges against him as unnecessary distractions.
The senate president was charged before the court alongside others over allegation that they forged the standing rules of the senate to conduct the elections that brought him and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu into office as leaders of the National Assembly.
Saraki, Ekweremadu, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and Benedict Efeturi were charged to the court in charge number CR/219/16 over forgery.
In a motion to challenge the charge filed by Saraki and dated June 22, 2016, through his counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate, Saraki is challenging his physical appearance at the court.
In the motion on notice, the Senior Advocate asked for an order asking the court to dispense with the physical appearance and arraignment of 3rd Defendant (Saraki) in Charge No. CR/219/16 between FRN v. SALISU ABUBAKAR MAIKASUWA & 3 ORS., during and pending the determination of this Motion on Notice.
He also asked the court for an order setting aside against the 3rd Defendant, the purported service of the Charge/Information Sheet which was effected by substituted means.
He asked the court to strike out against the 3rd Defendant or quashing against him, the Charge No. CR/219/16 between FRN v. SALISU ABUBAKAR MAIKASUWA & 3 ORS., for non-disclosure of a prima facie case.
He prayed the court for an order suspending or adjourning sine die all the proceedings against the 3rd Defendant in the case.
He argued that the notice of trial and Information ought to be served on the 3rd Defendant personally.
“No unsuccessful attempt was made by the Complainant to effect personal service of the Information/Charge on the 3rd Defendant. Hence, pasting of the processes on the Notice Board of the National Assembly is not good service.
“No prima facie case has been disclosed against the 3rd Defendant in this Charge.
There is no link between the proof of evidence and the allegations made against the 3rd Defendant in the Charge.
“The 3rd Defendant is currently standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged offences under the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act in Charge No. CCT/ABJ/01/15 between FRN v. DR. OLUBUKOLA ABUBAKAR SARAKI.
Accelerated hearing has been ordered for the prosecution of the said trial, in consequence of which the proceedings therein are being conducted on virtually day to day basis.
“The 3rd Defendant requires adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence.
“The Prosecution of this Charge concurrently with the other one being tried at the CCT will not only work great hardship against the 3rd Defendant, but will also deny him an opportunity to a fair trial”, Saraki’s lawyer.
In the affidavit in support of the motion, deposed to by Dolapo Kehinde, a legal practitioner, the senate president said consistently constituted a distraction, adding that He had dexterously managed the situation to the amazement of all and sundry.
The deponent said, “The preferment of the instant Charge is a precipitated decision made in bad faith, not only with an odious intention to scuttle legislative businesses at the Senate, but also a move to further throw the country into greater instability, such that distract Senators from their oversight functions and accountable governance.
“I know that the concurrent prosecution of this Charge with the other one at the CCT will not only work great hardship against the 3rd Defendant, but will also deny him an opportunity of a fair trial.
“The 3rd Defendant requires adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence in the instant Charge.
That the 3rd Defendant/Applicant will be adversely prejudiced and denied a fair trial/fair hearing if he is made to simultaneously stand trial for the two Charges.
“On account of national exigencies and necessities, the need to dispense with the presence of the 3rd Defendant/Applicant during hearing and determination of this Motion on Notice is also desirable.
“In the interest of justice and fair play/trial, it is imperative that proceedings in this Suit are suspended or adjourned sine die, pending determination of the proceedings/trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Further to Paragraph 8 above, “I also painstakingly reviewed all the documents attached in support of the Charge Sheet and I observed as follows:
On 30th June 2015, a group described as the Unity Forum caused a Petition to be written to the Inspector General of Police that the NASS Standing Rules was forged. The said Petition is attached and marked Exhibit ‘C’.
“The said Petition does not mention the name of the 3rd Defendant or anybody at all suspected to have participated in the alleged forgery, but only implores the Police to cause an investigation to be conducted on the matter”, he said.
The trial has been fixed for June 27, 2016.