No going back on Saraki, Ekweremadu’s trial —AGF

Senator Bukola Saraki, left and Senator Ekweremadu

THE Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, has said there is no going back on the forgery suit the Federal Government instituted against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and presiding officials of the National Assembly.

Malami, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, on Wednesday, said the decision of his office to institute a legal action against the presiding officers of the Senate over the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order 2015 was in good faith and in public interest.

He told the committee that the fact that he was contracted as one of the counsel in one of the three suits instituted on the forgery saga did not constitute any conflict of interest.

Malami said the decision of his office was informed by the  report of the police investigation on the matter which, he said, bordered on criminality.

He said the provisions of Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution empowered him to file the criminal charges against the presiding officers.

But Malami did not answer why he included the names of Saraki, and Ekweremadu in the suit, in spite of the fact that  their names were not mentioned in the police report.

To him, giving any reason at the moment for their involvement would be subjudice, because the proof of evidence was already before the court.

“The proof of evidence is before the court. I am a party in the suit, being the prosecutor. I can’t comment on the question you asked because doing so would be subjudice.

“I was invited to appear before the committee based on a letter which read: ‘Imminent threat to Nigeria democracy’. I have a clear obligation to do whatever should be done within the context of the constitution to sustain the democratic process,” he said.

He said his action was not taken to truncate any democratic process, but to protect the democracy, adding that there were two pending cases in court, one a civil case instituted by some senators and the other a criminal case instituted by the office of the AGF.

He maintained that he had met privately with members of the committee to apologise to them for his inability to honour the invitation in the last few weeks, hence there would not be any need for another public apology as demanded by the senators.

Chairman of the committee, Senator David Umaru, explained that the essence of summoning the AGF was to find out from him whether his action was not a conflict of interest, being a party in the suit and whether or not it was based on public interest.

“The AGF has the powers to institute or discontinue any criminal proceedings. We want to know if the AGF considered public interest, this is why we are here. The minister has apologised over his inability to appear. He also said the fellow that came did not represent his interest,” he said.

However, Senator Babajide Omoworare disagreed with his colleagues and argued that the AGF should not have been invited because the matter involved was before a competent court of law.

To him, both the constitution of the country and the Senate Rule Book forbade the senators from interfering on any issue pending in court.