The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday said that he would prefer to go to jail than surrender his mandate.
He described his travails both with the latest forgery charge and trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged false declaration of assets as persecution by the Presidency.
“This is a cross I am prepared to carry. If yielding to the nefarious agenda of a few individuals who are bent in undermining our democracy and destabilising the Federal Government to satisfy their selfish interests is the alternative to losing my personal freedom, let the doors of jails be thrown open and I shall be a happy guest,” the Senate President declared. Saraki, who stated this in a statement he personally signed in Abuja after his arraignment alongside his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and two others, declared that members of the Senate leadership charged for forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended), were innocent of the charges prevailed against them.
His words: “Let it be abundantly clear, both as a citizen and as a foremost legislator, I will continue to rise above all the persecution and distraction that have been visited on me.
“I will remain true and committed to the responsibilities that my citizenship and my office impose on me. Without doubt, the highest of those responsibilities is the steadfast refusal to surrender to the subversion of our democracy and the desecration of the Senate.” He also said that the charges filed against them at the Abuja High Court by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), was a violation of the principle of the Separation of Powers between the Executive and the Legislature as enshrined in the constitution.
Saraki said that it was a farce to allege that a criminal act occurred during Senate procedural actions, stating that it was a demonstration of a desperate overreach by the office of the Attorney General to execute a premeditated plot against his office.
The President of the Senate expressed concern that what the executive arm was doing against the leadership of the Eighth Senate was not in the interest of the public, and vowed not to relinquish his position for any cause. The statement reads: “Today (yesterday), we the leaders of the Nigerian Senate reiterate our innocence against the charges filed by the Attorney General of the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on the allegations of forgery of the Senate Standing Rules document. “In our view, the charges filed by the Attorney General represent a violation of the principle of the Separation of Powers between the executive branch and the Legislative Branch as enshrined in our constitution.
“Furthermore, it is farcical to allege that a criminal act occurred during Senate’s procedural actions and the mere suggestion demonstrates a desperate overreach by the office of the Attorney General. These trumped up charges are only another phase in the relentless persecution of the leadership of the Senate.
“This misguided action by the Attorney General begs the question, how does this promote the public interest and benefit the nation? At a time when the whole of government should be working together to meet Nigeria’s many challenges, we are once again distracted by the executive branch’s inability to move beyond a leadership election among Senate peers.
It was not an election of Senate peers and executive branch participants.” He further lamented that instead of all the arms of government to cooperate and find solution to the nation’s many challenges, the executive was rather distracting and destabilising the parliament.
“Over the past year, the Senate has worked to foster good relations with the executive branch. It is in all of our collective interests to put aside divisions and get on with the nation’s business. “We risk alienating and losing the support of the very people who have entrusted their national leaders to seek new and creative ways to promote a secure and prosperous Nigeria. As leaders and patriots, it is time to rise above partisanship and to move forward together.
“However, what has become clear is that there is now a government within the government of President Muhammadu Buhari who has seized the apparatus of executive powers to pursue their nefarious agenda. “This latest onslaught on the legislature represents a clear and present danger to the democracy Nigerians fought hard to win and preserve.
“The suit filed on behalf of the Federal Government suggests that perhaps some forces in the Federal Republic have not fully embraced the fact that the Senate’s rules and procedures govern how the legislative body adjudicates and resolves its own disputes,” Saraki stated.
Meanwhile, Ekweremadu has described the forgery allegation as a mark of anarchy in the country. In a statement he personally signed which was obtained by New Telegraph, Ekweremadu said that he had to appear in court as a law abiding citizen and pleaded not guilty because he never committed the offence.
He expressed worries that some highly placed Nigerians were taking advantage of their positions to oppress some other innocent citizens because of their selfish ambitions. He also lamented that the executive arm was trying to strangulate the parliament by witch-hunting the members of the legislative institution, regretting that instruments of power had become apparatuses for oppression of the innocent and voices of opposition. His words: “This grotesque display of vindictiveness, arrogance, and mindless targeting of innocent citizens should find no sanctuary in our democracy. Using the machinery of justice to create disorder is a dangerous and invidious scheme that ultimately will lead Nigeria down the road to perdition.
It is Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu today, who knows whose turn it will be next? “However, I put my trust in God, the court, and the overwhelming solidarity of the good people of Nigeria. When the dust settles, Nigerians will see clearly that this charge is nothing but meretricious thrash.
“Let us make no mistake about this: it is not Senator Ike Ekweremadu or Senator Bukola Saraki or the other accused persons that are on trial; rather the hallowed democratic principles of separation of powers, rule of law, the legislature itself, and indeed democracy are on a ridiculous trial. “Mere anarchy is unleashed upon the land, but our courage must not fall apart. No condition is permanent and nothing lasts forever.”