This came after the attack on the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday.
The Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub made the disclosure in a statement he personally signed on Sunday on the heels of the attack.
It will be recalled that Ekweremadu was attacked by suspected members of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, while participating in Iri Iji Festival of Igbo in the diaspora.
Condemning in strong terms the assault, Yakub said that there were other civilized ways within a democratic setting to show grievances by any individuals or groups.
The federal lawmakers hinted the House upon resumption in September would thoroughly investigate the matter, urging the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Maitama Tugger to immediately probe the issue with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
The statement read thus: “I, like most concerned Nigerians and others across the globe, have followed with utmost concern and worry about the treatment that was meted out on Sen. (Dr.) Ike Ekweremadu yesterday in far away Nuremberg, Germany, where he had, on the invitation of his people, gone to attend the Second Igbo Cultural Festival of Iri Ji in that part of Europe as a Distinguished Guest of Honour.
“Sen.Ekweremadu, an accomplished scholar in the legal profession and political leader of high standing in society, is one of our longest-serving Senators, who had also in the last twelve years until June this year held sway as the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate. Before joining the Senate, he was also Secretary to the Enugu State Government and had before then served in various capacities in that State.
“Given the high personality profile and the public service record which Sen.Ekweremadu parades, it is unthinkable that any individual or group anywhere in the world, let alone his very own people in the Diaspora, who ought to know better, should contemplate and carry out the despicable public act of shame that was brought upon a well-respected national leader of Sen.Ekweremadu’s stature before the glare of the entire global community in Germany.
“I, therefore, in very strong terms, condemn in its entirety the action of the group of Igbo people, alleged to be members of the outlawed IPOB, that had attacked Sen.Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday, August 17. I also wish to join other Nigerians and leaders to call on the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, H/E Amb.Yusuf Maitama Tugger to make good his promise to investigate and bring to book everyone who was part of that dastardly assault on a serving national leader.
“On my part, I promise to lead the House Committee on Foreign Affairs which I currently chair, and, indeed, other Members of the House, who have since yesterday continued to call in to express their indignation against and condemnation of the act, to move a Motion on the floor of the House and to call for broader investigations on the matter with a view to decisively dealing with all those involved and seeking protection for the politically-exposed persons on foreign trips and assignments in foreign jurisdictions.
“While conceding that it is the right of any group or individual to protest against a perceived wrong done to them in every democratic set-up, like ours, but it goes without saying that there is a limit to the extent any protest can go. It ceases to be a protest, for instance, when those involved in such a protest begin to make attempts on life or endanger the rights of others to peaceful and lawful assembly as we saw in the case at Nuremberg, Germany. As law-abiding people, we must have recourse to civility and proper ways of doing things at all times.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has sued for unity in Nigeria and that there was no need for separation, stressing that there is joy in being together.
Mr. Ekeremadu also said there was need for Nigeria to be restructured in order to take care of the interest of everyone at each geo-political zones which will go a long way to maximize their potentials.
Ekweremadu expressed the view after delivering a lecture on ‘Constitutionalism and the challenges of leadership in Africa: an evaluation of tested models’, in New York.
The event was organised by the Centre for Media and Peace Initiatives, a New York-based international non-governmental organisation, to mark the 10th anniversary of the centre.
He said “Nigeria does not require to be fragmented at this time. There is joy in being together. There is a benefit in being together.
“There is an advantage that is conferred on us as a country by our large population. What we need is giving everybody a sense of belonging and ensuring good governance.”
Ekweremadu, however, stressed the need for the country to be restructured from the current over-concentration of power at the centre, which was non-responsive to the citizenry.
“The central government that once appeared necessary and beneficent has compromised, even jeopardised its standing by perceived highhandedness, unfair treatment of some ethnic groups and abuse of power.
“The powerful central government has made citizens vulnerable to bureaucratic manipulation and control and left them powerless, and reminded them at every turn that the promise of self-government has been eroded.
“Nigeria, and indeed African constitutions, should espouse federalism characterised by weak centres and strong federating units.
“Currently, Nigeria has a very powerful centre, hence the need for devolution of powers.”
“If we start this process, it will assure the agitators that there is hope for a better Nigeria.
‘’We must continue to assure that the best way to go is restructuring, not dismemberment of the country.”
According to him, no argument that is both coherent and respectable can be made to support the continued emasculation of the component states by the centre.
“For example, the North will be a net exporter of solar energy and agricultural products while the West will be the hub of banking and information technology.
“The East will be the hub of industrial manufacturing and scientific innovations while the Middle Belt will be the hub of solid minerals development and tourism.
“The South-South will be the oil and gas hub as well as shipping. When this happens, there will be less pressure on the Federal Government.
“The zones will be the centres of development, the rush to Abuja will cease and the country will be able to realise it potential,” he said.
Ekweremadu called for a new constitution in Nigeria to replace the military-imposed document as had been done by Kenya, Zimbabwe and Brazil.
He said while most African constitutions provided only for amendments, not replacements, existing constitutions could be amended to make provisions for new constitutions and referendums.
Sen. Godswill Akpabio, in his remarks, stressed the need to ensure the implementation of some of the suggestions raised by Ekweremadu in his lecture to ensure a better Nigeria and Africa, by extension.
“We will go back with you and work to implement some of these recommendations because Nigeria must lead in Africa,” Akpabio, the Senate Minority Leader, said.
Sen. Bala Na’Allah, the Deputy Majority Leader, lauded Ekweremadu for the richness of the lecture and pledged that the 8th Senate would work to engender good governance through citizens-centred legislations.
The Nigerian Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Samson Itegboje, said Nigeria had come a long way but was a work in progress and would overcome its current challenges.
“We have the democratic structures; Nigeria is a country that now runs on the constitution, no constitution is permanent; it is a work in progress. What we need is re-engineering.”
The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, business leaders, media practitioners, civil society leaders, academics and Africans in the diaspora.
Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President, has warned President Muhammadu Buhari, to caution Nigerian Army on their operation Python Dance II, saying the move might lead to another civil war.
Ekweremadu in a letter to the President said withdrawal of the troops from the South East will avert a second Civil war.
The Deputy Senate President had earlier condemned the military siege of the South East, noting that dialogue and inclusion were best options in resolving the agitation in the region.
In a letter titled, “Rising Tension in the South East: Appeal to Call Off Operation Egwu Eke”, Ekweremadu said the rising tension in the region compelled him to appeal to Buhari “to take immediate steps to avert another civil war in Nigeria”.
The five-page letter read in part: “The peace of Nigeria has never been this fragile since the end of the civil war and as leaders we must do everything humanly possible and legitimate to hold the nation together in peace and prosperity.
“As President and Commander-in-Chief, you would agree with me that there is need for caution.
“Recall, Your Excellency, that the South East Caucus of the Senate met with you on November 9, 2016. We had a heart-to-heart discussion on pressing issues affecting the South East. Recall that on the issue of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who was then in detention, we pleaded for your intervention and strongly advised against his continued detention. We were of the view that his continued detention would only further popularise, and in fact make him a hero.
“Furthermore, we informed you that when the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, was detained during the administration of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, we approached the former President and appealed to him to immediately release Chief Uwazuruike to avoid creating a mountain out of a molehill. He heeded the advice and Chief Uwazuruike and MASSOB have never posed any threat to the peace and sovereignty of Nigeria ever after.
“I recall, however, that on the appeal for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, you told us to allow the judicial process to run its cause. But, in retrospect, it proved to be a big mistake on the side of government as his continued detention made him a hero among a cross-section of the people.
“I am afraid, Your Excellency, that the government is embarking on yet another huge misjudgment today by adopting a military option to the Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB challenge. Therefore, I most respectfully appeal to you to order the immediate withdrawal of the military from the South East as their presence can only and is indeed already amplifying tension in the region.
“As things stand, the reaction of the youth in the region is unpredictable. It is also possible that their reactions and actions of the military may be misrepresented or exaggerated on the Social media and trigger a chain of other actions in other parts of the country also.
“Not even Your Excellency or anyone else for that matter can certainly foretell the outcome of such chain of actions, reactions, and reprisals. But at least, you are in a position to imagine the number of the avoidable casualties and deaths.”
Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, says he has pity for the people of Kogi state over their stance to recall Senator Dino Melaye who represents Kogi West in the senate.
Ekweremadu said this on the floor of the senate while he was reacting to an advertorial on a National daily in which the Attorney General of the state, Ibrahim Muhammad, called him out for a comment he made on the floor of the senate regarding Dino’s recall.
Ekweremadu last week said the recall process was “dead on arrival” and that the senate would have to certify the recall process carried out by INEC before Dino can be shown the door out of the house.
In the newspaper publication, Muhammad faulted Ekweremadu’s position
“I must put on record that legal opinion of senator Ekweremadu on the role of the senate in the recall process, the senate has no role whatsoever in the recall exercise than to receive the certificate under the hand of the chairman of INEC stating that the provision of section 69 of the constitution has been complied with see 68 h of the 1999 constitution as amended,” Muhammad wrote.
Reacting to the publication, Ekweremadu during plenary this morning, said the Attorney general forgot section 68 (2) of the constitution where it said the senate would still deliberate on whether Melaye should be recalled or not. He said he had pity for the people of Kogi state for appointing such an individual as their Attorney General
“This morning my attention was drawn to a three-page advertorial, pages 20, 21 and 22 of the Leadership Newspaper by Ibrahim Muhammmad, attorney-general of Kogi, who was responding to my contribution on the floor of the senate when Senator Dino Melaye informed this senate of the efforts of the people of his constituency to recall him. I want to advise the people of Kogi state and indeed his constituents to apply their time to more useful venture in view of the very difficult conditions of recall of parliamentarians and in reference to the attorney-general, I did say that my learned friend may not have advised the people or indeed the government appropriately. So, this morning, Kogi state government took an advertorial to respond to me and I understand that every page costs about N700,000. For this alone, they spent about N2 million and I understand that it is an about five other papers so we are looking at about N12 million spent to responding to my comment. I pity the people of Kogi state that hired this kind of attorney-general and this is unfortunate that are paying a public servant and he is unable to do a simple work looking at the constitution. We must emphasise that 68 (2) is not part of the amendment since 1999. This has been the original provision of the constitution. It has nothing to do with Dino or whoever. It has been there since 1999 for him not to know about it – I don’t know where he went to law school anyway. If he has been properly educated, I believe he should have been conversant with the basic provisions of the constitution. I’m even his senior at the bar, he ought to show some respect because that is what we were taught at the law school, to respect our senior. But for the avoidance of doubt, I want to believe I have better credentials in the legal profession and my interest was constitutional law, I have a doctorate degree in law and my area is constitutional law. I have been chairman of the constitutional review committee in this national assembly since 2010. I expect the attorney-general instead of displaying his ignorance to call and I educate him on the correct position of the law. So, I take exception to this and I believe that he needs to refund the amount spent on this to the people of Kogi. I call on the house of assembly to institute an inquiry on who paid for this and find a way of receiving the money back to pay salaries of Kogi state”, he said
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised an alarm over the alleged frequent interference on other arms of government by the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
The opposition in a statement, according to Leadership, warned that such interference must be curtailed as a matter of urgency if Nigeria is to practice democracy like other democratic systems across the world.
The party, reacting to the withdrawal of the forgery case against Senator Bukola Saraki, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and others, described the case as a complete nothingness, adding that it was a shadow chase and bad politics on the part of the APC.
The PDP national publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said the federal government under the Penal Code Law has no business with the Standing Rules of the National Assembly.
“We are amused by this sudden realization of the Federal Government that the so called ‘Rule-Forgery Case’ was a shadow chase from the beginning. It was complete nothingness! More so, the claim through the Lead Counsel, Aliyu Umar, SAN, that the withdrawal was on grounds of respect for the rule of law and hierarchy of the Judiciary demonstrates more of comedy on the side of this Federal Government that has penchant for legal disobedience and abuse of Court processes,” Adeyeye said.
“Notwithstanding, this act of withdrawal justifies our earlier position that the All Progressive Congress (APC) led Administration is on a vendetta mission and not to govern.”
The party said the principle of separation of powers as propagated in every democratic setting is to allow for checks and balances amongst the different arms of government in order to prevent excessive use of power by any of the organs of government.
Meanwhile, the federal government is set to press fresh charges against senate president Bukola Saraki and his deputy Ike Ekweremmadu according to Vanguard.
It reports that the FG only withdrew the cases initially in order to allow it file new charges separately and to allow police interrogate suspects and witnesses.
Vanguard claimed that its findings showed that both Saraki and Ekweremadu will now be tried separately.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has stated that he has forgiven those who fabricated the alleged forgery case against him.
Ekweremadu, who said the interest of the country was above his personal interest and feelings, called on those in positions of authority to adhere to their oaths of office and be just to all.
He said this in a statement he personally signed on Sunday.
He was reacting to the withdrawal of charges of criminal conspiracy and forgery preferred against him; the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki and two other former senior bureaucrats of the National Assembly.
Ekweremadu said, “I clearly recall stating on that day (he was arraigned), my great comfort in the immortal words of late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe that history will vindicate the just.
“Time has indeed vindicated the just and it is victory for democracy. My trust in God, the court, and the overwhelming solidarity of the good people of Nigeria is justified.
“As a Christian, I have forgiven all those behind this for, ultimately, God is the driver of the destinies of men. I believe that Nigeria has to move on, but on the right path of justice and rule of law. Going forward, we must learn to be just to all in accordance with our oath of office.”
The Deputy Senate President called on those in government to “put politics behind and join hands in governance, “especially now that our country is challenged on different fronts.”
“As leaders at this critical juncture of our history, we must work together in the best interest of our people,” Ekweremadu stressed.
He stated that the presiding officers were allowed to go to court when the court was on vacation, lamenting that no one had the courtesy to inform the Senate President and his Deputy that there would be no sitting owing to the vacation.
“The time they would have used to attend to the nation’s task, was wasted, going to court. It is high time the executive realized that the era of executive interference was over.”
The former Senate President stated that unlike before, the other 14 South East Senators were not interested in the seat of the Deputy President of Senate, but were rather behind Ekweremadu, just as the overwhelming number of Senators was solidly behind Saraki and Ekweremadu’s leadership.
Noting that the unity of purpose of the lawmakers was one big lesson the executive should learn, he stressed that the era of executive interference in legislative business was over given the spirit of support among Senators.
The trial of President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and others at an Abuja Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High court sitting in Jabi was on Monday stalled due to the ongoing vacation of judicial workers.
Saraki, Ekweremadu, former clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa and the Deputy clerk, Benedict Efeturi are facing two count charges of alleged criminal conspiracy and forgery of the senate standing rules, 2015, which was leveled against them by the Federal Government.
Saraki, Ekweremadu and the other accused persons who arrived the court earlier had to return back after been told of the break.
Recall that the Justice Yusuf Halilu -led court had on June 27 granted all accused persons bail after they pleaded not guilty to the two count charge.
However, the court could not sit today because the judiciary was on vacation, which is expected to last till September.
A registrar of the court who confided in DAILY POST, said the matter will not be heard today because the court is on recess.
The source said, “As you can see, the accused persons just arrived but the matter will not be coming up today because the court is on recess.”
On when the matter will be coming up, the source said, “The accused persons will come back later for a date on when the trial will resume but that will be after the judicial vacation which will end sometime in September.”
DAILY POST gathered that the court has fixed September 28, 2016 for continuation of trials.
The forgery case against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and his Vice, Ike Ekweremadu and others, is to be prosecuted by a team of 20 teams consisting of 80 lawyers, some of which are from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The teams which is set up by the Federal Government would be led by four Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Punch reports. Though the identity of those lawyers are yet to be made public, and reports has it they have been trained specially for the tasks ahead.
FELLOW PRESS learnt that the Prof. Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption was involved in the training of the special prosecutors.
Our correspondent gathered that the training, which ended in June, lasted for over one month.
Sources in the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja confirmed to our correspondent on Thursday that one of the teams of prosecutors had been assigned the forgery case recently instituted against Senate President Bukola Saraki; his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, and two others.
The new prosecuting team will fully take over the forgery case from the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Diri, when the trial resumes on Monday, a source confirmed to FELLOW PRESS.
The Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, had, on June 10, preferred against Saraki, Ekweremadu and others, two counts of criminal conspiracy and forgery of Senate Standing Rules used for the leadership election of the presiding officers of the 8th Senate on June 4, 2015.
The two other co-accused persons are a former Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, and his then deputy, Benedict Efeturi.
The Federal Government stated that the offence of conspiracy is punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Act and offence of forgery with “fraudulent intent” punishable under Section 364 of the same law.
On June 27, the four accused persons were arraigned and they pleaded not guilty to the charges before Justice Yusuf Halilu of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, Abuja.
Shortly after their arraignment on June 27, they were granted bail on the conditions that each of them should produce two sureties, who must have property either in Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse 2 or Garki (all in Abuja).
Sources confirmed to our correspondent on Thursday that the AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, deliberately assigned the case to the special prosecution team for “efficient prosecution and management of the case”.
It was learnt that the team was given the liberty by the AGF to review the case file “and make necessary adjustments or amendments” where necessary to enhance the prospect of a successful prosecution of the case.
When contacted, the AGF’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Salihu Isah, confirmed to our correspondent that the forgery case was one of the high-profile criminal cases that had been assigned to one of the special teams of prosecutors.
“The prosecutors, 80 in all, are constituted into 20 teams. After they were trained, cases have been assigned to the first six and one of the cases is the Saraki’s case that you mentioned,” Isah said.
Though he declined to mention the names of the lawyers in the team, Isah said the matters assigned to the various teams varied from terrorism to corruption cases, among others.
According to him, the National Prosecution Coordination Committee, inaugurated by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, would review some of the cases either being prosecuted or still being investigated by the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and others agencies.
The committee, he added, would also recommend the re-assignment of suitable cases among them to the teams of prosecutors.
“The teams will take up cases investigated by the various law enforcement agencies – ICPC, EFCC, DSS – and even some being handled by the ministry,” he said.
A source explained that some of the cases that would be assigned to the teams of prosecutors were the over 1,500 terrorism cases said to have been filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja since last year while the accused persons had yet to be arraigned.