FORGERY CASE: DEAR VARIOUS ETHNICITIES, IT IS NOT A TRIBAL WAR!

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki of the APC, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP, appeared before an Abuja High Court on Monday, after being sued by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for allegedly forging the Senate Standing Rules, in order to emerge as Principal Officers of the Senate.

The story so far, goes thus: While aggrieved APC Senators were elsewhere, meeting with the Party's leadership, the shrewd Bukola Saraki who had allegedly previously connived with his ‘like-minded APC Senators and opposition PDP Senators, suddenly emerged as President of the 8th Senate. As the mystery unraveled, accusations were leveled at Saraki and Ekweremadu, by the aggrieved APC Senators, who claimed that both men had conspired to amend the Senate Rule Book in order to attain the top Senate positions.

As the drama recently unfolded with the court summons served on Saraki and Ekweremadu, members of the Senate in support of both men began screaming that the Executive arm of Government was turning into a dictatorship, gunning for Saraki's blood. A statement signed by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, accused the Executive and Judiciary, of meddling into the affairs of the Legislature, in a matter that had already been resolved in the Senate. The Senate then tried to push blame for any amendment of the Rule Book to the National Assembly bureaucracy, stating that the book was handed over to the legislature by the bureaucracy (seeming to infer that any amendment must have been done by the latter). In a swift counter-reaction, the outgoing Clerk of the Senate, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, who alongside his deputy, Benedict Efeturi, had also been summoned by the court, stated that the bureaucracy had actually gotten the Rule Book from the Senate, after it had been amended by the leadership of the apex legislative chamber!

So, who really is to blame? Saraki has stated that he is innocent, and that this is another desperate attempt by his detractors to nail him. He says that prior to his election as Senate President on June 9 2015, he was simply a Senator-elect, just like his fellow other Senators, and thus, was in no position to influence the rules. Ekweremadu for his own part has reminded his persecutors that no condition is permanent!

The AGF, Abubakar Malami, is unbothered by the Senate accusations. In his opinion, the Principal Officers have a case to answer. Contrary to accusations leveled against him, Malami says that there has been no intrusion by the Executive and Judiciary, into the affairs of the Legislature, and that he is simply doing his job as the nations' Chief Law Officer, vested with the authority to initiate criminal proceedings in any Court of Law within the Federation.  Malami also states that his suit was initiated based on recommendations from the Inspector General of Police, who had initiated investigations when aggrieved APC Senators cried Wolf against Saraki and Ekweremadu. This is the synopsis of the case so far.

Now, to the crux of the matter. After the two men were summoned, an Igbo group, Ohaneze Youths, threatened to disrupt the proceedings, because Ekweremadu is their fellow son.  In their words, "In as much as we do not condone any act of illegality from any quarters, we make bold to state that the present attempt to arraign Senator Saraki and Ekweremadu is ill-motivated and politically-induced.Threatening to mobilize against the AGF's suit", the group further stated, In particular, our son, Senator Ike Ekweremadu is occupying the highest political office in the South-East and should not be unduly humiliated and embarrassed by these recurring antics. We shall no longer take it lightly.

So because Ekweremadu is an Igbo man, he should not be arraigned in court? How utterly stupid!

Now, it is statements that these, that keep tearing Nigeria apart. Nigerians are always too quick to inject tribal affiliations into any and every issue. If a man is accused of a crime, why not be more bothered about making sure that the rule of law is followed, instead of ascribing it to political witchcraft and an attack on any particular tribe? We must move past this sort of foolishness, and face serious issue intelligently! Nobody has convicted either Saraki or Ekweremadu of any crime. Accusations have simply been leveled accusations which can be dispelled (or not) in a Court of Law.

We are not here to harper on the issue of the alleged ‘one-sided nature of the fight against criminality and corruption.’ Besides, the suit was initiated against an APC man (albeit, one with many legal battles to fight) and a PDP man. If there are ‘sensible grievances - as there probably are- then let us tackle them in court. But while we're at it, let us drop tribal sentiments to the corner!
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