Ahead of their trial on Monday for alleged forgery, the Federal Government has listed 14 witnesses against the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu.
Others for trial on Monday are the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, and the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Benedict Efeture.
But there was anxiety last night, following the police report which indicated that the 7th Senate leadership, headed by a former President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, was also culpable on the amendments to the Senate Standing Rules 2015.
The Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Efeture, told the police that the 7th Senate leadership ordered the 2015 Standing Rules as amended by their convention and practice.
According to the court documents obtained by our correspondent, the Federal Government witnesses include the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Ita Enang, and the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Sen. Babafemi Ojudu.
Other prosecution witnesses are Sen. Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi; Sen. Solomon Ewuga; Sen. Ahmed L. Lawan; Sen. Abdullahi Gumel; Sen Kabiru Garba Marafa; Sen. Gbenga Ashafa; Sen. Robert Boroffice; Sen. Abu Ibrahim; Dr. Ogozy Nma; Adem D.J; ex-DIG Dan’Azumi J Doma and ACP David Igbodo.
The police report, signed by ex-Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Dan’Azumi J. Doma, however, gave insights into the alleged forgery scandal.
The police report, which was dated July 14, 2015 with reference CR: 3000/X/FHQ/ABJ/VOL.186/88, established the following:
Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended was given to Senators on June 9, 2015.The contents of the Senate Standing Oder 2015 as amended are substantially different from the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended.The Senate Standing Orders 2015 which was used to inaugurate the 8th Senate on the 9th of June 2015 was ordered by the leadership of the 7th Senate without following Section 110 of the Senate Rules 2011 as amended.The practice where some group of Senators amends the Rules of the Senate without following legal procedures is criminal.
The report said: “That on the 9th of June, 2015, a document titled ‘the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended’ was distributed to Senators of the 8th Senate for their inauguration as members.
“That the contents of the Senate Standing Oder 2015 as amended are substantially different from the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended. Sections 2 (IV), 3(3) E, I, ii, iii, G AND H, 5 and 7 of the Rules are different in the two Orders.
“ That the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended was used by the clerks of the National Assembly and the Senate as the Senate Standing Orders to inaugurate and conduct elections into the offices of the presiding officials of the Senate viz the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President etc.
“ That the testimonies of some members of the 7th Senate including that of the Chairman of the Business and Rules Committee and Senators of the 7th Senate indicate that the Senate Standing Order 2011 was not amended during the tenure of the 7th Senate which ended on the 8th of June, 2015.
“That the procedure for the amendment of the Senate Standing Order as contained in Section 110 of the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended stipulates that any amendment to the Senate Standing Orders should be in line with the following procedures:
Any Senator desiring to amend any part of the Rules or adding any new clause shall give notice of such amendments in writing to the President of the Senate giving details of proposed amendment.The President shall within seven working days cause the amendment to be printed and circulated to members. Thereafter, it shall be printed in the Order Paper.The mover or movers of the amendment shall be allowed to explain in details the proposed amendments, thereafter in details the proposed amendments, thereafter the Senate shall decide by majority votes whether the amendment should be considered.If the decision is to consider the amendments, then another date shall be set aside by the Rules and Business Committee, whereby opportunity would be given to Senators to further propose amendments but must strictly be confined to the original amendments. “Two- third majority shall decide the amendments but must strictly be confined to the original amendments.Two third majorities shall decide the amendments and such amendments shall form part of the Rules of the Senate.That the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Benedict Efeturi, who doubles as the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly confirmed in his statement that the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended was produced on the orders of the Senate Leadership without following the amendment procedures as contained in the Senate Standing Orders 2011 as amended.That the allusion by the Clerk of the Senate to procedure of amending the Standing Orders of Parliament through “practice and not necessarily by procedure” is a misplaced analogy and undemocratic because the Nigerian Senate has clearly laid down without a proviso, the procedure to be adopted in amending its standing orders as contained in section 110 of 2011 Senate Standing Orders.
“From the findings, especially from the statement of the Clerk of the Senate who doubles as the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, the Senate Standing Orders 2015 which was used to inaugurate the 8th Senate on the 9th of June 2015 was ordered by the leadership of the 7th Senate without following Section 110 of the Senate Rules 2011 as amended which requires that any amendment to the Senate Standing Rules must be debated and approved by the Senators on the floor of the Senate.
“This practice where some group of Senators amends the Rules of the Senate without following legal procedures is not only criminal but portends danger for our growing democracy and should be discouraged.
“However, it is recommended that the file be sent to the Attorney-General of the Federation for vetting to determine if this conduct constitutes crime or should be treated as an internal affair of the Senate.”
It was not immediately clear on what will be the fate of 7th Senate leadership, which was headed by former President of the Senate, Chief David Mark.
But in the statement of the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, Benedict Efeture, he insisted that the 7th Senate leadership ordered the amendment of the Standing Rules.
Efeture said: “I am the Deputy Clerk of the NASS. The senate leadership ordered the 2015 Standing Rules as amended by their convention and practice. Standing orders 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 follow similar practice.
“In Congress and in Parliament, amendment of Standing Orders is by practice not necessarily by procedure.
“The Ruling of the Senate President that Standing Rules of 2015 is the authentic is relevant please. Refer to the debates of the Senate on Wednesday 24th June, 2015. Senate leadership referred to was that of the 7th Senate.”