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IGP: rules forgery beyond Senate

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The last may not have been heard of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 forgery, which a court has described as the upper chamber’s internal affair.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase believes the allegations are criminal matters, which the police cannot be restrained from investigating.

According to him, any issue affecting the integrity of the National Assembly and the country is beyond what could be left with Senators to address.

Also, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) has said it has the police’s report on the allegation and will soon begin its execution .

It queried the powers of the court to restrain either the police or the AGF from performing their statutory responsibilities.

The IGP’s and AGF’s position are contained in their separate notices of preliminary objection filed in a suit initiated by Senator Gilbert Nnaji.

Nnaji is seeking among others, to restrain the police from proceeding with its investigation of the forgery allegation and to also stop the AGF from prosecuting any person indicted in the report.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole, at the resumed hearing in the case on Tuesday, said the National Assembly should be allowed to handle the Standing Orders forgery internally.

But the IGP stated that by the investigation so far conducted, it has been discovered that the Senate was operating on a forged Standing Orders because there was no evidence that the 2011 Orders were ever amended before the introduction of the 2015 Orders.

In the objection deposed to by an official of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Joshua Yohanna, the IGP stated that “the matter at hand is not simply an issue on the floor of the National Assembly. The matter at hand raises issues of criminality. The 1st defendant owes Nigerians the duty to unearth the truth behind the allegations of forgery.

“There are allegations of forgery of the Senate Standing Orders against some principal officers of the Senate. It is these allegations that the 1st respondent is poised to investigate. Forgery is a criminal Allegation. It is only investigation that can prove whether the case of forgery is true or false.

“There was no time the current Senate sat to pass the 2015 Standing Orders. Senators were, at the inauguration, just handed a document from the blues titled: Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended).

“There was never any amendment of the 2011 orders by the immediate past Senate. Certain orders of the said 2015 amended Orders are inconsistent with the 2011 Orders.

“There was never a notice written, calling for such amendment. Senators, who are complaining were never consulted before any such amendment.

“The 1st defendant has a duty and responsibility to investigate all allegations of crime. To determine whether allegations of forgery are made out, who committed the said forgery and if there is forgery at all in the first place.

“Investigating the allegations and determining the culpability or otherwise of the alleged culprits will lead to a just conclusion of the matter. Non-investigation of the allegations will engender mistrust among the disputing sides.

“The 1st defendant is neutral in this matter. It has not taken sides, will not take sides and does not take sides on issues of this nature at all. Every Nigerian citizen can be investigated in all civilized countries, Nigeria inclusive.

“No senator, not even the distinguished Senator Kabiru Marafa has disrupted the proceedings of the Senate since July 28, 2015 till date. Investigating allegation of forgery can only strengthen the integrity of the Senate and the Senate leadership. The 1st defendant’s duty will be impeded by the grant of the reliefs sought.

“The plaintiff is neither the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Nor is he an officer of the Senate.

“He is not aggrieved. He is not interested in this matter; he is not accused of forging the amended Senate Standing Orders.

“The present Senate has not enacted any Standing Orders yet. As at the time of inauguration of this present Senate, no Standing Orders had been made.

“Till such Standing Orders have so far been made. The practice is that, at inauguration, the incoming Senate uses the Standing Orders of the preceding Senate. The immediate past Senate did not amend the 2011 Standing Orders. The 2011 Standing Orders have not yet been amended.

“The plaintiff cannot prove that the so-called 2015 Standing Orders were passed by the preceding Senate. The So-called 2015 Standing Orders were never made nor passed by the immediate past senate.

The new Senate has not passed any Standing Orders. It is the 2011 Standing Orders of the Senate that should be used.

“The former Senate President did not pass any 2015 Standing Orders. The present Senate President was not in a position to have passed the 2015 Senate Standing Orders before his inauguration. The extant Senate Standing Orders are the 2011 Orders.

“It is only after inauguration that the current Senate could pass the Standing Orders. What he (the plaintiff) is bandying about is not an authorised Senate Standing Orders. The so-called 2015 Senate Standing Orders are forged.

“It is at the conclusion of investigation that 1st Defendant can determine whether the Standing Orders are founded or unfounded. There are two Senate Standing Orders, one 2011, the other, 2015. The 2011 orders were used to govern the immediate past Senate.”

The office of the AGF said charges will soon be filed against those found culpable in relation to the Senate Rule forgery.

Head of Civil Litigation, Federal Ministry of Justice, Taiwo Abidogun, told the court on Tuesday that the investigation report has been submitted to the ministry by the police.

He said the report “is waiting our execution. So, I do not know what the plaintiff wants to stay. He cannot stay a completed act.”

The AGF argued, in its objection, that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi (right to sue) to initiate the suit. It noted that by his averments, Nnaji has betrayed his true intention, which is to protect the Deputy Senate President, Ike 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: “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.”

The AGF argued that the court lacked the powers to “validly restrain other departments of government from carrying out their functions. The law is trite that where the plaintiff lacks the locus standi to institute a matter, reliefs and orders sought cannot stand.”

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