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I’ll rather be jailed than yield to those bent on undermining democracy –Saraki

 The Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy Ike Ekweremadu have insisted on being innocent of the charges on forgery of the Senate Standing Orders on which they were arraigned at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Court on Tuesday. On his part, Saraki, who is also standing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on charges of false assets declaration, described his ordeals as a cross which he said he would always be ready to bear.

He said, “This is a cross I am prepared to carry. If yielding to the nefarious agenda of a few individuals who are bent on undermining our democracy and destabilising the Federal government to satisfy their selfish interests is the alternative to losing my personal freedom, let the doors of jails be thrown open and I shall be a happy guest.”

The Principal Senate officials said the charges filed by the Attorney General of the federation against them was a violation of the principle of the Separation of Powers between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch as enshrined in the Nigeria’s Constitution. They made this known in a statement which the Senate President personally signed, stressing that they considered it a farce to allege that a criminal act had occurred at their instance, during Senate Procedural actions. They said the mere suggestion that they were involved in forgery act had demonstrated

“A desperate overreach by the office of the Attorney General” The added that the “Trumped up charges is only another phase in the relentless persecution of the leadership of the Senate” The Statement reads “Today we the leaders of the Nigerian Senate reiterate our innocence against the charges filed by the Attorney General of the Federal Government of Nigeria at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on the allegations of forgery of the Senate Standing Rules document.

“This misguided action by the Attorney General begs the question, how does this promote the public interest and benefit the nation? At a time when the whole of government should be working together to meet Nigeria’s many challenges, we are once again distracted by the Executive Branch’s inability to move beyond a leadership election among Senate peers. It was not an election of Senate peers and Executive Branch participants.

“Over the past year the Senate has worked to foster good relations with the Executive Branch. It is in all of our collective interests to put aside divisions and get on with the nation’s business. “We risk alienating and losing the support of the very people who have entrusted their national leaders to seek new and creative ways to promote a secure and prosperous Nigeria. As leaders and patriots, it is time to rise above partisanship and to move forward together.

“However, what has become clear is that there is now a government within the government of President Buhari who have seized the apparatus of Executive powers to pursue their nefarious agenda. “This latest onslaught on the Legislature represents a clear and present danger to the democracy Nigerians fought hard to win and preserve. The suit filed on behalf of the Federal government suggests that perhaps some forces in the Federal Republic have not fully embraced the fact that the Senate’s rules and procedures govern how the legislative body adjudicates and resolves its own disputes.

“Let it be abundantly clear, both as a citizen and as a foremost Legislator, I will continue to rise above all the persecution and distraction that have been visited on me. In the words of Martin Luther King Junior, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy”. “I will remain true and committed to the responsibilities that my citizenship and my office impose on me. Without doubt, the highest of those responsibilities is the steadfast refusal to surrender to the subversion of our democracy and the desecration of the Senate. However, the Presidency on Monday dismissed insinuation by Senate President Bukola Saraki that President Muhammadu Buhari was operating “a government within the government.’’

In a statement issued to newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said the President was nobody’s stooge and that the allegation was not worth the paper on which it was written, “as anybody can wake from a troubled sleep, and say anything.’’ Adesina said “This claim by Senator Saraki would have been more worth the while, if it had been backed with more information. “If he had proceeded to identify those who constitute the “government within the government,” it would have taken the issue beyond the realm of fiction and mere conjecture. “But as it stands, the allegation is not even worth the paper on which it was written, as anybody can wake from a troubled sleep, and say anything.

“The Attorney-General of the Federation is the Chief Law Officer of the state. It is within his constitutional powers to determine who has infringed upon the law, and who has not. “Pretending to carry an imaginary cross is mere obfuscation, if, indeed, a criminal act has been committed. But we leave the courts to judge. “To claim that President Muhammadu Buhari is anybody’s stooge is not only ridiculous, but also preposterous. “It is not in the character of our President.’’

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