Forgery: AGF Insists On Trial Of Saraki, Ekweremadu, Says He Acted In Public Interest
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday, justified 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.
Malami, who honoured the invitation of the Senate after three weeks the Upper Chamber passed a resolution to summon him over the matter, also told the senators that his office was convinced that the suit should be prosecuted in the interest of public.
The AGF, who reminded the federal lawmakers that making specific comments on the issue could be subjudice, however, clarified that his initial involvement as a counsel in one of the three suits instituted on the forgery saga, did not constitute any conflict of interest.
He maintained that the action of his office was informed by the police report attached to the suits which bordered on criminality, adding that the provisions of Section 60 of the constitution empowered him to file the criminal charges against the presiding officers.
Malami refused to answer queries by members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, on why he was prosecuting the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, despite the fact that their names were not allegedly mentioned in the police report.
Malami noted that the matter was a case of conspiracy and forgery but that asking him to justify the reasons for involving the two presiding officers would be subjudice because the proof of evidence was already before the court.
Quoting from both the 1999 Constitution and the Senate rule book, the AGF said, “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.”
He said, “I was invited to appear before the committee based on a letter which reads ‘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.
“The issue that constitutes the basis of this invitation is a criminal case instituted against certain members of the Senate. It is an act that predates my appointment. There are a series of suits.
“I was appointed on the 12th of November, 2015. That is four months after the investigation was concluded by the NPF. I have an obligation in the sustenance of democracy to institute a legal action from an investigation that has been concluded. It was based on this that I took the action.
“The action was not taken to truncate any democratic process, but was taken to protect democracy. There are now two pending cases in court. One is a civil case instituted by some senators. The other is a criminal case instituted by the office of the AGF.
“The initiation behind the forgery case was taken in the interest of the public and in the interest of democracy. I want to state clearly that my decision was based on public interest and the aim is to prevent abuse of public offices.
“The National Assembly has the powers to regulate its own procedure. But the basis for filing my case was that the position taken was not that of the Senate. The Senate Standing Rules allegedly amended in 2015 did not follow the traditional way of amendment.