By Henry Umoru, Dapo Akinrefon & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA — BARELY 24 hours after the arraignment of Senate President, Bukola Saraki; his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and others for alleged forgery of 2015 Senate Standing Rules in an Abuja High Court, Ekweremadu has taken his case outside the shores of Nigeria.
He called for intervention of the United Nations, Us Congress, United Kingdom, European Union Parliament and foreign missions, saying a powerful institution as the National Assembly was being ridiculed and rubbished by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
But the Presidency in a swift reaction, said it would not bandy words with the Deputy Senate President.
Also, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said it would not comment on the matter since it was in court.
Ekweremadu, who noted that the nation’s democracy was in grave danger, said their trial for forgery of Senate Standard Rules was an attempt to truncate Nigeria’s democracy and silence him as the leader and highest ranking member of the opposition party in the country.
In the two-page letter, entitled: “Re: Trumped Up Charges Against the Presiding Officers of the 8th Senate: Nigerian Democracy is in Grave Danger,” Ekweremadu, who attached copies of the court summons, and other relevant documents relating to the matter, is asking the international community to decide whether or not the trial was worth it, justifiable or one that was purely borne out of political vendetta.
Ekweremadu noted that neither his name nor that of the President of the Senate featured either in the petition by aggrieved members of the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, or during the investigation of the petition by the police.
The letter read: “You may further wish to judge for yourself whether this unfolding scenario, coupled with the clampdown on the opposition, such as targeted arrests and indefinite detention of opposition figures and dissenting voices, in spite of court pronouncements and in clear violation of the Nigerian constitution, as well as the sustained marginalization of the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones of Nigeria, does not constitute a grave danger to the nation’s hard-won democracy.
“I wish to forward to you the court summons containing the trumped-up charges preferred against my person, the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, CON; and two others.
“I also wish to appeal to you to kindly find time to read through the annexures— petition by members of the Senate Unity Forum, statements by persons interrogated, and the police report— to see if our names appeared anywhere in these documents.
Judge for yourself
“You may, thereafter, judge for yourself whether the Federal Government, acting through the Attorney-General of the Federation, has any justification whatsoever to generate our names for trial. The list of the accused persons appears to have been politically generated because you cannot by the documents attached, relate any of our names to the offence for which we are now being charged.
“Moreover, the rules and principles of fair-hearing have not been adhered to because the police have not interacted with me or the President of the Senate as at the time of writing this letter.
“You may also wish to judge for yourself whether this trial orchestrated against me is not a political trial, calculated witch-hunt, barefaced intimidation, and a clear attempt to emasculate the parliament and silence me as the leader and highest ranking member of the opposition in Nigeria.
“Meanwhile, it could also be recalled that an attempt was made on my life on November 17, 2015. The Nigerian security agencies did nothing, even though the incident was duly reported.’’
Witnessing against Saraki has nothing to do with my appointment —Ojudu
Meanwile, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said, yesterday, that his role as a witness to the forgery case preferred against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekwerenmadu, in court had nothing to do with his present appointment.
Ojudu said he would testify as a member of the 7th Senate and the Unity Forum that called the police attention to the forgery, adding that his involvement in the case should be divorced from his current position.
He said: “My statement and other witnesses’ statements were taken months before my appointment. As a member of the Unity Forum, I am one of those who worked for Senator Ahmed Lawan as the preferred candidate for the Senate Presidency in the June 9, 2015, election.
“There are three groups of senators, namely: the Unity Forum, Like Minds and the Non-aligned. The Unity Forum comprises both serving and non-serving senators. I am an active member, being a senator in the 7th Senate from 2011 to 2015.”
Ojudu said while he was in the Senate for four years, at no time were the rules amended.
He added: “So tampering with the rules by the current Senate was seen as a misnomer by us and that was why we petitioned the police.
“The statement we did to the police on the matter predated my appointment and that of Senator Ita Enang. It will, therefore, be preposterous for anyone to classify me as representing the Presidency on the matter.”