Some Senators May Use Screening For Bargaining –Ogunye | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Some Senators May Use Screening For Bargaining –Ogunye

Posted: Oct 4, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

A Lagos based constitutional lawyer,  Jiti Ogunye in this interview with Anuli Agwu, speaks on whether the trial of  Senate president, Bukola  Saraki will have any effect on the ministerial nominees sent by President Buhari last week. Excerpts:



Do you think the ongoing trial of the Senate President Bukola  Saraki will have any effect on the ministerial list to be submitted by the President Muhammadu Buhari?

Well, I can’t say for sure, but one can surmise that given the possibility of blackmail and brinkmanship at the level of the senate, it is possible that those who want to survive in their position at the Senate,  and am not just referring to the Senate President but the other senators who against the wishes of their party. Apparently, and  am talking about the senators who have been given certain positions may want to have a trade off, in the sense that they may want to say ‘look, back off  from our case, let us continue in our position, otherwise, not only will we not look at your ministerial list, the bills passed, other executive action and bill that require cooperation from the Senate will also suffer the same thing. However, the possibility of these senators being able to do that also depends on whether they are also not vulnerable to further investigation and probable persecution.

The truth of the matter is that too many people in power in Nigeria are closet criminals, they are closet criminals. It is when public satellite, investigation satellite is beamed on them that their dirty rump is then exposed to the world to see. So, the capacity to blackmail is also likely dependent on whether they are not even vulnerable, and if they are vulnerable, of course, their ability to blackmail would be very much reduced. So, it depends on how things play out, no political pundit can in my own opinion and view can say with certitude and certainty on how things will play out.

Going by his trial, do you think Saraki should resign?

I don’t have any advice for Saraki. If you follow my public opinion on this matter, I argued by way of public intervention which was carried in virtually all the newspapers. My argument is that Saraki and Ekweremadu’s election are a nullity and indeed, I stated that the question of resigning from an office you have not rightly and legally occupied does not arise. You aren’t occupying it, you may be occupying it in fact but in law, you are not occupying it. So, I cannot therefore advice Saraki to resign.

As far as I am concerned, Saraki is not the Senate President of Nigeria because he had not been elected in accordance to the dictates of the constitution, of the standing orders of the senate, and in accordance to all the norms and conventions of a democratic election of the leadership of a legislature. Both issues are still ongoing now and the jury is still out.

The critical question is, as at the time Saraki and Ekweremadu claimed that they were elected, was there a senate standing order 2015? There was none, everybody had agreed there was none, including this person, there was none, so and that’s the issue of forgery that had been raised to the matter, I am a trained lawyer, if you claim that you are elected to an office, pursuant to an existing rules or law or procedure, the question that ought to be asked therefore is whether you have been rightfully elected. I give you an example, the last time the electoral act was amended was in 2010, that was the electoral act that was used to conduct the 2011 election, there was no further amendment to the electoral act in 2015. So, if Jega had claimed that he conducted the 2015 general election, according to 2015 electoral act, won’t people say that which electoral act?, when did you amend it? Are you the authority to amend it? How did it happen? And won’t that nullify those elections? So, my view is quite very radical, I have no advice to Saraki or Ekweremadu, all I have advocated, all I’ve stated publicly and this is big knowledge, is that, in the eye of the law, their purported election does not exist. Therefore, it’s just that those who are, politicians have their own considerations.