THE Office of the Attorney General of the Federation has said that efforts are being made through judicial process to frustrate the investigation of the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 and shield Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and other officials of the Senate from probe.

A suit meant to scuttle the investigation was filed by Gilbert Nnaji (representing Enugu East Senatorial District), on July 23, filed a suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/646/2015 before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Nnaji alleged in the suit that police investigation of the case was“inspired by a devious petition by the Secretary of the Unity Forum Senators, solely aimed at unjustly incriminating the office of the Deputy  President of the Senate” being occupied by Ekweremadu, representing Enugu West Senatorial district.

However, the AGF Office has queried Nnaji’s locus standi to institute the suit for being neither a principal officer of the Senate, elected under the controversial 2015 Orders, nor being investigated by the police.

According to the AGF’s office, Nnaji has betrayed his true intention, which is to protect Ekweremadu.

It contended that it was only Ekweremadu and others, who feel their interests or rights would be affected by police investigation of the forgery allegation that could validly sue.

The AGF Office said that “in the light of the foregoing, we submit that it will be in the interest of justice for this matter to be struck out in its entirety as the plaintiff’s suit has not disclosed or shown that he has any personal remedy arising from the disclosed cause of action that exceeds that of Senator Ike Ekweremadu or the Senate as an entity.

“We submit that the plaintiff can only seek declarations in court if he can establish that he has suffered or is going to suffer any injury  on account of the investigation.

“This is a suit that should rightly be instituted by the Senate as an entity or better still by Senator Ike Ekweremadu, whom, by the plaintiff’s affidavit, at paragraph 27, is identified as the ultimate target of the petition.”

On the plaintiff’s argument that no other arm of government could pry into the activities of the Legislature under Section 30 of the Legislative House (Powers and Privileges) Act, the AGF argued that the 8th Senate was inaugurated after the alleged forgery had taken place, which informed why all the senators saw the 2015 Orders at their inaugural sitting on June 9.

“My Lord, by paragraphs 16 and 24, most especially paragraph 24 of the plaintiff’s affidavit, the said Standing Orders, the subject of the investigation, came into the hands of the plaintiff (Nnaji) for the first time when the house was inaugurated.

“How then can the plaintiff be justified in challenging the investigation into an allegation that occurred prior to his inauguration and how has it affected his interest?” The AGF said in urging the court to dismiss the suit.

The alleged forgery of the Senate Orders 2011 relates to the alterations carried out, particularly in relation to Rules 3(3)(e) and (k), which were said not to have been amended in accordance with the provisions of Rule 110(1)(2)(3)(4)(5) of the 2011 Orders.

While in the 2011 Order Rule 3(3) (e) talks about manual voting and open ballot, the 2015 Orders allows electronic and secret ballot voting in the election of the President and Deputy.

Also, while Rule 3(3)(k) of the 2011 Order makes it mandatory for all members to participate in the process of electing the President and Deputy, the reverse is the case under the 2015 Orders.

In the 2011 Orders, Rule 3(3)(k) provides that: “All Senators-elect shall participate in the nomination and voting for President and Deputy President of the Senate,” similar provision in Rule 3(3)(i) in the 2015 Orders reads: “All Senator-elect are entitled to participate in the voting for Senate President and Deputy Senate President.”

Nnaji’s case has been adjourned to September 8 by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, who served as the court’s vacation judge until August 7.

The judge threatened to void all steps taking by the defendants (the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the AGF) should he find that they (the defendants) take further steps on the issue while the case was pending.

By Dike Onwuamaeze


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