• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Alleged forgery: Senate may postpone Tuesday resumption

Saraki

There are strong indications that Tuesday’s resumption of Senate may be postponed indefinitely over the forgery trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu.
The full trial of the Presiding Officers of the Red Chamber alongside two top management staff of the National Assembly over alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) is set to commence at an Abuja High Court tomorrow.
A senator, who spoke to BDSUNDAY on condition of anonymity, disclosed that if either Saraki or Ekweremadu are not around to preside over the affairs of the Red Chamber, resumption of the legislative chamber will be postponed until they are available.
It was gathered that a statement to this effect may be issued on Monday evening.
“If the two Presiding Officers are not around, we will close the chamber until such a day one of them would be available,” a member of the Senate Like Minds vowed.
According to the lawmaker, the Executive cannot force a leadership change in the hallowed chamber on the one hand and expect cooperation from federal legislators on the other hand.
He also ruled out the activation of President Pro-Tempore as envisaged in Order 27 of the Senate Rule.
According to the Rule, plenary would only hold with a Presiding Officer to guide the day’s proceedings. And in the absence of the two Presiding Officers – Saraki and Ekweremadu – ‎the Red Chamber can only sit if it appoints a President Pro-Tempore.
“I can conveniently tell you that we are ready for the executive this time. The matter is simple. They cannot have their cake and eat it. The executive believes that it can impose a Senate President ‎on the House. It won’t happen. So, as far as the overwhelming majority of Senators are concerned, nothing like the appointment of Senate President Pro-Tempore will happen on the floor of this Senate,” he said.
The quartet pleaded not guilty to the two counts of criminal conspiracy and forgery preferred against them by the Federal Government last month.
Saraki had consistently denied that he falsified parliamentary rules to get elected, maintaining that he was never a Presiding Officer in the 7th Senate and was never invited by the Police to give his own side of the story.
The influential Nigerian politician was charged with two counts of criminal conspiracy and forgery and was in the dock alongside his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, at an Abuja High Court. The outgoing clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, are also facing the same charges.
The Federal Government had listed among its witnesses against Saraki, two aides of President Muhammadu Buhari – Babafemi Ojudu and Ita Enang.
Others listed as witnesses are Solomon Ewuga, Ahmed Lawan, Abdullahi Gumel, Kabiru Marafa, Gbenga Ashafa, Robert Borrofice, Abu Ibrahim and Othman Hunkuyi.
According to the charge sheet, the defendants “with fraudulent intent forged” parliamentary documents and used them to get Saraki and Ekweremadu elected in June last year.

Conviction carries a maximum of 14-year jail sentence.
Justice Yusuf Halilu granted all four men bail and adjourned the case until July 11.
As the faceoff between the two arms of government gathers steam, analysts say one thing the Senate President has going for him currently is his numerical strength, which has made it practically impossible for him to be impeached. At the moment, the former Kwara Governor controls 87 senators, representing 84percent of the Red Chamber. Out of the 87 senators, 44 PDP lawmakers recently passed a vote of no confidence on President Buhari for ‘persecuting’ presiding officers of the upper chamber.
Some pro-Saraki senators heading juicy committees include: Andy Uba (PDP, Public Accounts); Godswill Akpabio (PDP, Minority Leader), Danjuma Goje (APC, Appropriations); John Enoh (PDP, Finance); Dino Melaye (APC, Federal Capital Territory); Shehu Sani (APC, Local and Foreign Debts); Peter Nwaboshi (PDP, Niger Delta); James Manager (PDP, Power); Kabiru Gaya (APC, Works); Bassey Akpan (PDP, Gas) and a host of others.
This is even as 16 senators are behind President Buhari, a far cry of two-thirds majority required by Section 50 (2) (c) of the 1999 Constitution to remove the Senate President. By implication, 73 senators are needed to activate Section 50 (2) (c) of the Constitution.
The pro-Buhari senators who are mostly members of the Senate Unity Forum include: Sola Adeyeye, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Francis Alimekhena, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Abubakar Kyari and Kabiru Marafa.
Others are: Adeola Olamilekan, Binta Garba, Ali Wakili, Adesoji Akanbi, Sulaiman Nazif, Yusuf Abubakar, Abubakar Garbai and Ovie Omo-Agege.

 

OWEDE AGBAJILEKE