Patrick Osadebamwen in Abuja reports on the growing public support for Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu over his summons by the police over involvement in the alteration of standing rules to pave way for Senator Saraki’s emergence as Senate President.
The recent summons served by the police on the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekeremadu over an allegation that he altered the Senate Standing Rules to pave way for Saraki’s election appears destined to open another round of crisis in the National Assembly, with a spill over into the public domain.
Shortly after the police invitation was served, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, expectedly flayed it as a design to frame the Deputy Senate President and pave the way for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to have the post to itself. The opposition Peoples Democratic party which at a press briefing said Ekweremadu’s invitation was part of a grand plot by All Progressive Party to arrested and detain him to pave way for the emergence of an APC Deputy Senate President as he has not yielded to pressure to resign the trust of his colleagues in the upper chamber of the legislative arm.
The Party said this is part of the streams of politically motivated onslaught against the opposition following a schemed petition by angry APC senators to the Inspector- General of Police, Solomon Arase. According to the National Publicity Secretary of the party Olisa Metuh, the move was a dangerous slide into dictatorship.
“Apparently to ensure that the agenda is given an official stamp, the Inspector General of Police, acting on instructions has invited the Deputy Senate President with a view to arresting him over phantom charges as a build up to incarcerate him, create a vacuum in the Senate and pave way for the imposition of APC preferred senator to take over his position. “We are aware that some APC senators opposed to the emerge of Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively met last week and concocted a petition accusing the Deputy Senate President of altering the Senate Rules on the process of election of the Presiding Officers, upon which the police via a letter dated July 1, 2015 and signed by the Deputy Inspector General in charge of criminal investigation at the Force Headquarters has invited him to appear tomorrow, Monday, July 6, 2015 where he will be detained and put under pressure.”
In a statement by APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party denied writing and awareness of any petition written against the Deputy Senate President. He said: ”However, if, as the PDP claims, the petition concerns alleged altering of the Senate’s Standing Rules on the process of electing Presiding Officers, that is a clear case of forgery which the police have a duty to investigate. Questioning the right of the police to carry out their duties in this regard amounts to intimidating the security agency.
Joining the fight in support of Ekweremadu yesterday in Kano was the former Special Adviser to President Shehu Shagari during the second republic Alhaji Tanko Yakasai. According to the elder statesman, President Buhari should be held responsible for the arrest. Mr. Yakasai allege that the police invitation could not have come without prompting from the President and his party the APC. He warned the party and it to retrace their steps from what he considers an act of desperation as it could sound the death knell for democracy.
He accused Mr. Buhari and APC leaders of lacking the basic knowledge of the norms and rules of legislative chambers as practiced in democratic seetings. He said: “I think the problems here is that neither Buhari, nor Oyegun or any serious member of the APC are truly aware of the basic knowledge of the national assembly, they should use this chance to have some know how of the settings and rules therein,” he said, adding that “ although the election of principal officers of the national assembly is done by a simple majority, their removal requires the participation of all members.” The Nigerian police which said it is following due process on the matter and disclosed that it was acting on the receipt of a petition from a Senator added that the police investigating team is being headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Force CID.
Pledging to make the investigation open in consonant with democratic principles, the police said it has no plans to arrest Ekweremadu But the PDP expressed doubts about the question of fairness. The party said the allegation for which the Deputy Senate President would be questioned today by the Nigerian police led by Deputy Inspector General in charge of Criminal Investigation lacked substance Moreso that the Clark of the National Assembly had strictly done the Standing Rule.
“Apart from the fact that the Nigerian Constitution clearly guarantees the two chambers of the National Assembly the powers to regulate their proceedings without external interferences, we note that the petition by this group of senators who enjoy the sympathy of some APC leaders lacks merit as Senator Ekweremadu or any other senator-elect prior to the inauguration of the Senate and the election of presiding officers, could not have been involved in the process of producing the 2015 Standing Rules of the Senate which was strictly done by the bureaucracy under the Clerk to the National Assembly.”
It further stated that even judges may have been recruited to ensure that this grand scheme to undermine the senate and democracy in Nigeria. It reminded the opposition to acquaint itself with the valid processes for the removal of the Deputy Senate President as no amount of intimidation and blackmail would force Ekweremadu to resign his office. The genesis of Ekweremadu travail started on the floor of the red chambers on June 24 when Senator Kabir Marafa form Zamfara State, obviously acting the APC script against Buhari-Ekweremadu emergence as Senate President and Deputy raised objections to the rule that were being used to carry on proceedings.