The senate has accused the executive arm of government led by President Muhammadu Buhari of attempting to “muzzle the legislature and criminalise legislative processes” in order to cause leadership change in the national assembly.
In a strongly worded statement issued moments after the president returned to the country at the end of his London trip, the upper chamber said the executive is so desperate to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, that it does not mind “sacking the constitution”.
The senate asked Buhari to respect the principle of separation of powers and also call Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation to order, insisting that the independence of the judiciary must be respected.
“After reading in the national newspapers and online platforms of the planned charges of forgery and conspiracy preferred against the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, immediate past clerk of the national assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the clerk of the senate, Mr. Ben Efeturi and reviewing the circumstances leading to the filing of these charges, we are compelled to alert the good people of Nigeria and the international community, that our democracy is in danger and that the attempt by the executive arm of the federal government to muzzle the legislature and criminalise legislative processes in order to cause leadership change in the national assembly is a return to the era of impunity and lack of respect for due process which we all fought to abolish,” read the statement signed by Aliyu Abdullahi, spokesman of the senate.
“This latest plot is directed at forcing a change of leadership in the senate or, in the extreme case, ground the red chamber of the national assembly. Or how do one interpret a move in which the two presiding officers are being set up to be remanded in Kuje Prison or incapacitated from sitting at plenary through a day-to-day trial on a matter that is purely an internal affair of the senate.
“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to please call his attorney-general and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to order. The Senate of the Federal Republic voted freely to elect its leadership into office and continuing attempts to change that leadership through the wanton abuse of judicial processes cannot stand in the eyes of the world.
“It is clear that the attorney-general and party leaders behind this action either lack the understanding of the underlining principles of constitutional democracy, the concept of separation of powers, checks and balances and parliamentary convention or they just simply do not care if the present democracy in the country survives or collapses in their blinded determination to get Saraki and Ekweremadu by all means necessary, including abuse of office and sacking the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The statement advised the executive to focus on the economic challenges confronting the country, warning that its decision to overlook some alleged infractions on the part of the executive should not be taken for granted.
Abdullahi said actions of this nature has cast a shadow on the integrity of the current administration and its fight against corruption.
“We are in a state of economic emergency such that what the National Assembly needs at this time are executive bills and proposals aimed at resolving the crises of unemployment, currency depreciation, inflation, crime and insecurity,” the statement read.
“What the National Assembly needs now are executive bills to build and strengthen institutions to earn revenues, fight corruption and eliminate waste. Instead, we are getting hostile actions aimed at destabilising the National Assembly, distracting Senators from their oversight functions and ensuring good and accountable governance.
“We must make it clear here to the individuals in the Executive arm and party leadership behind these plots not to mistake the maturity and hand of co-operation being extended to the Presidency by the legislature as a sign of weakness. The National Assembly bent backwards to accommodate various infractions and inefficiencies in pursuit of inter-arms co-operation and national interest. We did not follow up the various infractions because we believe there are bigger issues which the government has to attend to in order to ensure that every Nigerian have food on his table and live comfortably in a secured environment.
“These present efforts, therefore, is clearly a coup against the legislature with the ignoble aim to undermine its independence and subject the law making institution to the whims and caprices of the executive. It is a plan to return Nigeria to the dictatorial era which we have, as a nation, voted to reject. It is a dangerous trend with grave implications for the survival of our democracy and the integrity of the component institutions.
“This rule of men as against the rule of law is also the reason why the War Against Corruption, one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration, is losing credibility because people perceive it to be selective and, in most cases, aimed at settling political or partisan scores.”