Saraki, Ekweremadu In The Dock | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Saraki, Ekweremadu In The Dock

Posted: Jul 3, 2016 at 3:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)







The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, were last week arraigned before a Federal High Court, Abuja on allegation of forging the Senate Standing Order to ensure their election into office. For Saraki, this is a double jeopardy as he is already facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged false declaration of his assets when he was the governor of Kwara State.

The fresh trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu has, however, elicited mixed reactions from Nigerians. While some demand that Saraki and his deputy toe the path of honour by resigning their positions while the case lasts, others maintain that the trial is politically motivated.

Otunba Gbenga Olarinoye, a journalist and Ayo Adesopo, Professor of Public Administration from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, said there was nothing special in the trial of the principal officers of the National Assembly, noting that the trial will strengthening the nation’s democracy.

Let Them Prove Their Innocence – Prof. Adesopo

Professor Ayo Adesopo maintains that through the trial, people now know that “it is no longer business as usual.” He explained that in the past, people do worse things and get away with them.

He stated: “That the duo is making noise should be understood. They know the gravity of what they have done. They did more than that when the Buhari administration first beamed its light on how arms fund was misappropriated. See also how it was politicised when the name of Olisa Mentuh and such others were first mentioned in the arms deal.

“What they were feeding the public then was that it was politics and see the revelations afterwards. What surprised me most was the petition written by the Deputy Senate President to the US, UN and so on forgetting that these countries and bodies will not condone such in their system. This is a domestic matter.”

While stressing that both Saraki and his deputy were all out to further ridicule the nation because of their selfish interests, Professor Adesopo declared that the trial would not severe the relationship between the Executive and Legislature since it only involves some members and not the entire members of National Assembly.

According to him, “this is an allegation of forgery that one will expect them to take up and clear themselves in the court of law and not making noise all over the place. Yes, no doubt, it will affect the executive/legislative relationship. But, what is wrong is wrong? Anybody found guilty should be charged appropriately and punished if found guilty.

On whether the trial was politically motivated or not, Professor Adesopo said the fact remained that there was an amendment to the Standing Rule of the Senate which was allegedly traceable to them, which they must do everything possible to clear.  He noted that the petitioner was from within the Senate.

Did Saraki, Ekweremadu Do Anything Wrong? The Court Should Decide – Olarinoye

For Otunba Gbenga Olarinoye, Saraki deserves whatever he is passing through now. According to him, he is the architect of the trial and allegation he is being charged for. He noted that the question that should be asked is: “Did Saraki commit these offences or not? If ‘yes’, let the Rule Of Law (ROL) take its full course in Saraki’s case, because it will serve as deterrent to others who may want to engage in any act that is inimical to the progress and development of this country.”

He added: “I believe that there is no person that is not ambitious. But, it should be done within the confines of the law of the country and such ambition should not be inordinate. The courts where Saraki and his deputy are undergoing trial are courts of competent jurisdiction. If at the end, the court decides that they are not guilty, they will regain their freedom. But if the courts ruled otherwise, they should be prepared to face the full wrath of the law because nobody is above the law.

“More so, Saraki and his deputy are not above the law and the forgery case for which they are being tried is not against the entire National Assembly, but few individuals. If the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Cameron, could signal his intention to step down from office on the issue of referendum on whether Britain should remain in EU or not and somebody who is facing criminal charges, both in Federal High Courts, accused of forgery, and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) accused of false asset declaration, I think what is honourbale for Saraki and others is to resign from office pending when the case last.”

According to Oyetunde Oyekola, the trial should be taken as part of normal judicial process for the progress and development of the country. He explained that if the trial is free and fair, it will give credibility to the present administration because people will see the government as cleansing the Aegean’s table.

According to him, “the trial if not political motivated, will strengthen democracy because people holding political offices would sit tight and transparent in all their dealings. He stressed that if the trial is politically motivated, it will give government bad name and image.

Trial Is Political, Oppressive – Obinna

Chief Nweke Obinna, a Warri-based educationist, maintained that the travails of the Senate President, Bulola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu by executive arm of the government is not only politically motivated, but oppressive of the legislature. He stated that it was an attempt to coerce the Red Chamber into changing its leadership structure.

He said if Saraki had not been Senate President, he would not have been put under searchlight, wondering what is the concern of the executive arm of government if the Senate Standing Rules were altered or not. He said the presidency is unnecessarily interfering with the workings of the Upper Chamber, adding that this is not in the interest of democracy, especially since majority of Senators are standing by their leadership in the matter of alteration of the Standing Rules and alleged false declaration of assets being pursued at the CCT.

He insisted that the executive arm should allow the upper chamber to perform its duties without further distraction in the spirit of Separation of Powers, even as he stated that the trials have caused a strained relationship between both arms of government and in turn affecting the smooth running and administration of the economy of the country. Chief Obinna said these trials will impact on their relationship negatively.

Stop Making Public Show Of Court Trials – Dore

But, Engr. Emiko Dore, a Warri-based retired oil and gas expert and publisher, stated that Saraki and Ekweremadu should face their trail and stop making a public show of the case. He maintained that the cases are personal to them and that they are not the first set of top government officials to face trail.

According to him, if at the end of the trial, they are not found guilty, then they would have been proven innocent by the appropriate authority. But if they are found guilty, they should be sanctioned like every other Nigerian. He stressed: “If Saraki goes to jail, it portends good for the Buhari administration and victory for democracy in Nigeria as it would go a long way to show that everybody is equal before our laws.”

APC Has Hidden Agenda

Ezekiel Embu, a technologists, said: “With what is happening, I am beginning to believe the fears by many Nigerians that this APC government has a hidden agenda or that the President is on a vendetta mission to silence the voice of the opposition. This is not supposed to be so under a democratic dispensation and maybe somebody needs to remind President Muhammadu Buhari that this is not military junta.

“What is happening in Nigeria today is better imagined than real because almost all the people that are being dragged to court for one offence or the other are members of the opposition, their family members, relatives or close acquaintances and business associates. I am beginning to ask: Are they the only corrupt people we have in Nigeria today? One thing that the people advising Buhari fail to realise is that Nigeria does not belong to Daura Emirate or to the Fulani ethnic group, but to the over 200 ethnic nationalities. Again, he should not take Nigerians for granted in some of his administrative policies and pogrammes.

Buhari, EFCC Not Being Fair – Adamu

Aboubacar Adamu, an applicant: “In the area of corruption, what the EFCC and the Muhammadu Buhari-led government in general is doing, to me, is not good. Even if he is all out to fight the opposition, the way they are going about is so glaringly biased in all ramifications. One thing I do know is that most Nigerian leaders are corrupt and not the opposition PDP members alone.

“But the fight against corruption ironically is centered on them (PDP members) and that shows clearly that Buhari is not a nationalist, but by all standard, is pursuing regional or tribal agenda to the detriment of some sections of Nigeria. One thing the government fails to understand is that while pursuing such personal agenda, the monies wasted could have been used to solve one problem or another for Nigerians. We have heard about jobs being created, but not seen. If not, why should someone like me, a graduate of Political Science, remain jobless?”