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Resign or face your trial, government tells Saraki, Ike Ekweremadu

The Federal Government has hit back at the Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, over statements they made last Tuesday after they were arraigned for allegedly forging the Standing Rules of the upper legislative chamber.

The government said it would be better for Saraki and Ekweremadu to either honourably resign or face the judicial process.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, said statements issued by both Senate leaders targeting the government and President Muhammadu Buhari as an individual as if the executive arm was the initiator of the forgery case against them was not acceptable.

Lawal who also signed a statement yesterday said the separate comments by “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 in 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.”

He said the two separate statements conveyed ‘‘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.”

Although he said the case is in court and the judicial process must be allowed to take its course, Lawal absolved the executive arm of government of blame, saying: “It is important to emphasize 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.”

He explained further that it was a case of alleged forgery, which cannot be preferred against an institution but on individual.

Citing the case of former Speaker Salisu Buhari, who forged a certificate showing that he graduated from a Toronto University, Lawal said: “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.”

Lawal contended that the two statements by the Senate chiefs were indeed contradictory as Saraki believes the President has abdicated his powers, allowing a cabal to be in charge of federal administration, while Ekweremadu said Buhari has become a dictator.

Lawal added: “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 democratic principle of the separation of powers.”

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