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On the violent assault against democracy

Our democracy is under attack and it might collapse unless Nigerians rise up to defend it. The historic event that recently took place in Britain…

Our democracy is under attack and it might collapse unless Nigerians rise up to defend it. The historic event that recently took place in Britain comes to mind as one ponders the type of democracy we have chosen to practice in this country. The British people have just voted to be independent of the European Union (EU) after 43 years of membership. Giving effect to democracy and expressed wish of the people, Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned his position and fixed his exit date for October.
However, in our country, even though we pretend to practice democracy, institutions are not allowed to work but the selfish machinations of those holding the levers of power. Why is it that our governance is always coloured and seen through the prism of individual leaders rather than being sustained by the modern ethos and ethics of democratic governance? Why is it so difficult for the executive to allow the other arms of government to operate independently as granted them by the Constitution? Why has the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, chosen to prefer criminal charges against the presiding officers of the 8th Senate on a matter that is wholly internal to the Senate?
The arraignment of Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu falls squarely within this new template of executive impunity and using the judiciary to settle political scores. The facts of the case to me are clear enough even though I am not a lawyer. Nigerians and members of the international community  know that some lawmakers, on behalf of the Senate Unity Forum (SUF), who championed the failed bid of Senator Ahmed Lawan to emerge Senate President petitioned the police, alleging forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 that produced Saraki and Ekweremadu. Following the petition, the police in July 2015, invited some leaders and of the 7th Senate for questioning. It is worthy of note that both the presiding and principal officers of the 7th Senate so invited never honoured the invitation of the police. Only Maikasuwa and Efeturi honoured the invitation and made statements to the police. The police concluded its investigation and sent it to the AGF to determine whether what happened in the chambers of the National Assembly on June 9, 2015, is subject to prosecution.
One thing is clear. The present case of forgery is a new phase in the unholy crusade to cow the National Assembly and make it of no effect, even though the institution represents the live wire of our democracy. This is because there is no denying the fact that the emergence of Saraki as Senate President of the 8th Senate is the raison daitre for his ongoing persecution cum prosecution over alleged false asset declaration or forged Senate rules. It must be noted that the AGF cannot deny being an interested party in the instant case for which he is the Prosecutor-In-Chief, by virtue of his being one of the  counsel to the members of the Senate Unity Forum that petitioned the police and also instituted a case before he was appointed minister.
Again, before the AGF was appointed, the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) ‘suddenly discovered discrepancies’ in the asset declaration forms filed by Saraki about 13 years ago for which he is currently undergoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). Besides, the executive and certain elements in the APC who are apparently miffed by the revelations emanating from the CCT which clearly underscores the claims of the Senate President that he is being persecuted for political reasons, have now made a detour and dusted a report which has been with the AGF for over a year, and suddenly got busy with plans to arraign Saraki. To make it credible, they decided to join Ekweremadu and a select few at an FCT High Court over allegations of forgery.
Is it not curious that some of the officials of the 7th Senate expressly mentioned in the police invitation are missing in the current charge before the FCT High Court? Do we need to consult a star gazer to know that David Mark was the Senate President of the 7th Senate? Even kindergarten pupils know that Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba was the Senate Leader of the 7th Senate and that Senator Ita Enang was the Chairman Business and Rules Committee in the 7th Senate. Why are these names missing in the  forgery charge for which trial is billed to commence on Monday.
To show the eagerness, with the executive want to get at Saraki by initiating this kangaroo trial, it is pertinent to note that never a time was the name of Saraki mentioned in the report of the police that purportedly investigated a matter they were not legally competent to investigate being that they are direct agents of the executive and further precluded from interfering in the internal matters of any other arm of government. That  is in climes where the sanctity of the doctrine of separation of powers is respected and given effect.
Many Nigerians have insisted that the trial which commenced on Monday, June 27, is a direct assault against democracy and a criminal subversion of the rule of law which the present administration swore to protect. I cannot agree with them less. President Muhammadu Buhari owes Nigerians the obligation to ensure that the other arms of government are allowed to function unencumbered. He owes Nigerians the obligation to ensure that our cherished democracy is not subverted by a few in position of power. Let him act to safeguard democracy and immediately order the AGF to withdraw the charges against Saraki and Ekweremadu.
Abdulrazaq wrote in from Ayingba, Kogi State.

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