Thursday, 7 July 2016

Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s Desperation?

*Let those accused of forgery face their charge instead of trying to politicise their trial
What exactly does deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu want to achieve with his letter to the United Nations, United States’ Congress, United Kingdom, European Union Parliament and foreign missions, seeking their intervention in a matter that is already before a competent court in Nigeria?
Perhaps only the deputy senate president and those behind the idea can shed light on the matter.

Ekweremadu wrote the international community concerning his arraignment alongside the senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, and the former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa as well as his deputy, Mr. Benedict Efeturi, for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules, 2015. According to the deputy senate president, their arraignment was an attempt to rubbish the National Assembly by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

In the letter titled: “Re: Trumped Up Charges Against the Presiding Officers of the 8th Senate: Nigerian Democracy in grave danger,” Ekweremadu said that the trial was an attempt by the government to truncate democracy in the country as well as silence him as the leader and highest-ranking member of the opposition party.

Ekweremadu’s letter, as usual with the typical Nigerian elite’s manner of defence, was not about whether he and the three others actually committed the alleged crime of forgery or not. It pandered to the usual appeal to pity and sentiment more than any attempt to exonerate them of the alleged crime. We find this ridiculous, even if not unexpected.

In the first place, we cannot understand how the trial could be interpreted as an attempt to truncate democracy in the country. Ekweremadu is not being tried before a military or a quasi tribunal but by a competent court of law. Even if we accept that he and the senate president were not given fair hearing by the police during their investigations as he claimed, they both have a golden opportunity to tell the court what the police did not avail them the opportunity of telling. They have the opportunity of marshalling their defence legally to exonerate themselves of the charge.

The beauty of it is that even if the court of first instance delivers its judgment, either party that is dissatisfied with the judgment has a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal. If still that delivers a judgment that any of the parties considers unfair to it, there is yet the opportunity of taking the matter up to the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land.

To this extent, therefore, the trial can only deepen democracy and strengthen the rule of law in the country, contrary to Ekweremadu’s claim that it would truncate it.

Again, in Nigeria, an accused stands innocent until proven guilty by a competent court. As a democrat, and one who should hold the rule of law sacrosanct, Ekweremadu ought to have allowed the country’s judicial system do justice to the matter instead of externalising a strictly criminal matter. The deputy senate president’s desperation to seek the intervention of the international community is a vote of no confidence in the country’s judicial system, which is a pity.

If truly the senate’s standing rules that threw up Dr Saraki as senate president were forged, that is a grievous allegation. The senate is Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber and its leading lights must, like Caesar’s wife, be above suspicion. We know that those the deputy senate president has written on the matter would most probably not dignify him with a reply; this is partly why we are worried about the extent that desperation can take our politicians. Unfortunately, they not only ridicule themselves by some of their actions, they also drag the country’s name into the mud, which is sad indeed.

We deplore the penchant of our ruling elite to see any attempt to call them to account for their actions as ethnic, religious or political persecution. In this instance, it is only the senate president and his deputy as well as two others that are on trial; they should face the charge instead of making it look as if the offence allegedly committed was collective responsibility by the senate. Any senator who feels sufficiently strong that it is the senate that is on trial has a right to ask to be joined in the suit.

But for now, it is only Dr Saraki, Ekweremadu and the two others that are in the dock for the alleged crime. So, let them bear their cross alone instead of dragging the name of the Nigerian senate into disrepute; not only at home, but worse still, abroad.
Source: The Nation

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