There were strong indications over the weekend that the police might arrest the Deputy Senate President, Senator lke Ekweremadu, and some former principal officers of the 7th Senate this week.
The senators might be arrested for snubbing a police invitation to answer questions on their roles in the alleged forgery of the rules of the Senate in 2015
We gathered on Saturday that the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department, Garki Abuja, which is investigating the alleged forgery, was waiting for the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to approve the arrest of the principal officers.
A reliable source at the Force Headquarters confided in one of our correspondents that some senior police officers would meet over the issue at the beginning of the week. After the meeting, the investigation department would be asked to arrest the affected principal officers before the end of the week.
In July 2015, the police had invited some principal officers of the Senate over the alleged forgery of rules used for the election of Saraki, his deputy and the inauguration of the 8th Senate.
The police, in another letter dated June 7, 2016 and signed by Assistant Inspector General of Police, James Caulcrick, had requested the officials of the 7th Senate to report to the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja, for the purpose of conducting further investigations on the fraudulent use of the Senate Standing Order 2015 (as amended) by the Senate.
In the letter, Caulcrick noted that none of the officials on the 7th Senate list had honoured an earlier invitation to respond to the allegations against them, except the Clerk of the National Assembly and that of the Senate.
Sunday PUNCH gathered that the planned arrest of the principal officers would be a prelude to the hearing of the forgery suit filed against some of them at a Federal High Court, Abuja.
The source told Sunday PUNCH that the police leadership had come to the realisation that they might have to apply “lawful force to compel obedience and cooperation” from the suspects.
He stated, “Since the suit has been filed, we will arrest the men if they fail to honour our invitation. We are only waiting for the go-ahead from the IGP. We are hoping to pick them up this week or before the hearing of the suit begins.”
Following a directive by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to the IGP the police had submitted the final report of their investigation to the Ministry of Justice for the prosecution of the affected officers.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Bisi Kolawole, could not be reached for comment as she did not respond to calls to her phone. She had yet to reply an SMS that was sent to her as of the time of filing this report
But Kolawole had, a few weeks ago, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the police had returned the case file to the AGF.
“I understand that the case file is in the AGF’s office that they are to charge the case to court from their end,” she had said in an SMS.
We have not received court papers — Saraki, Ekweremadu
When contacted, aides of the President of the Senate and his deputy said their bosses had yet to be served with the court process on the suit instituted against them by the Federal Government over the alleged forgery of the order used for their inauguration as presiding officers of the 8th Senate.
The Senate President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, and his counterpart in the Deputy Senate President’s office, Uche Anichukwu, who spoke in separate telephone interviews with our correspondent on Saturday, said their principals read the news in the media, like other Nigerians.
Olaniyonu, in his reaction, said, “We read the story just like any other Nigerian. We have not been served with any court documents so we don’t have the details. Whatever action that would be taken would be after studying the court papers on the suit.
“We cannot make comments on the issue at the moment but we are watching events as they unfold. We read newspaper reports about police inviting officers of the 7th Senate yesterday for questioning on the issue and today the story is different. Our reaction will come later.”
Anichukwu, the media aide to Ekweremadu, also said, “The deputy president of the senate read the story in the newspapers; we are waiting for details from those who filed the suit before we can react.”
However, a source in the office of Ekweremadu told our correspondent in confidence that some people who were under pressure from “some powerful people in the President Muhammadu Buhari government” were behind the suit.
The source said, “The police told reporters last year that Ekweremadu was not invited by the police over the forgery saga. However, a year after, the police wrote a letter claiming that Ekweremadu and others failed to honour their invitation for investigation since last year.”
In Charge No. CR/219/16 filed by the office of the Attorney General of Federation on 10th June, 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria (complainant) slammed a two-count charge of “criminal conspiracy, contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code Law” and “Forgery contrary to 362 of the Penal Code Law” against Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu.
Also charged to court were the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly, Abubakar Maikasuwa, and the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Benedict Efeturi. Former senate president, Senator David Mark, and former Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba were not charged.