* Aggrieved Senators May Seek Court’s Intervention
An ominous cloud of uncertainty has continued to hover above the Senate as Security operatives are now in possession of both hard and soft evidence proving that some Senators in connivance with management staff of the National Assembly connived to forge the Senate Standing Rule.
The essence of the forgery, according to reports, was to ensure the election of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President, being part of a ploy to outsmart members of the Unity Forum led by Ahmed Lawan who were strong contenders.
Fresh reports made available to the Street Journal are indicating that after storming the National Assembly last week, security operatives were able to obtain sufficient information pointing towards the forgery of the Senate Standing Rule.
According to reports, the officers were able to obtain both soft and hard copies of documents on the Senate Standing Rule and how a clause on election of principal officials of the Senate was forged.
Officials of the National Assembly alleged to have been directly involved in the case of forgery are said to have volunteered useful information to the Senate.
There have been two copies of the Senate Standing Rule in circulation one of which arouse the suspicion of the Ahmed Lawan group on the basis that the Senate Rule had been surreptitiously and flagrantly tinkered with.
A Senator from Zamfara State, Senator Kabiru Marafa was the first to raise the alarm on the alleged forgery of the Standing rule as he produced two of the Rules in circulation; (the un-amended 2011 Copy and the supposed amended Senate Rule 2015) to the media with a vow that members of the Unity Forum group will get to the root of the forgery.
According to Marafa, while the Senate Order 2011 makes room for open ballot to be observed during election of Principal Officers of the Senate, the new Order, which was yet to get the approval of the Senate, insists on secret ballot with a clause inserted to make the alteration stick.
Marafa quoted the old Senate Rule on voting for the emergence of the Senate president states thus; “Voting shall be conducted by the clerk at-the-table using division list of the Senate with the tellers in attendance. The Clerk of the Senate shall submit result of the division to the Clerk of the National Assembly.”
In the new Senate rule given to Senators, it was stated; “Voting shall be by secret ballot which shall be concluded by the clerk-at-table using the list of the Senators-elect of the Senate, who shall each be given a ballot paper to cast his vote, with the proposers and seconder as tellers.”
On that basis, another member of the Unity Forum, Senator Suleiman Othoman Hunkuyi had approached the Police calling for their intervention on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order.
It was on the basis of a petition Hunkuyi submitted that prompted the police to storm the Senate department last week to obtain information from relevant officials and lawmakers.
Senator Hunkuyi told the Police that the “So called new Standing Order purports to allow for secret instead of the open ballot system that has been prevalent in all Senate elections as permitted by the extant rules.
He added, “This infraction, among others arises from fraudulent production of rules without an approved consideration by the Senate”
He also stressed, “At no time was the Standing Order of the Senate considered during the entire life of the 7th Senate, neither has the 8th Senate sat for long enough to produce the rule now being circulated in use”
It was learnt that the Police, which have been investigating the issues in the Senate, have been cautious on taking steps in order not to be seen as meddling in politics while also contributing to the already heated polity.
A top Police officer in a chat with our correspondent said the onus of proof of forgery of the Senate’s Standing Order lies on members of the Unity Forum by way of proceeding to the court to seek intervention.
He said Police could later be helpful when the court seeks the evidence it had gathered which he said could easily be produced.
It was learnt that the Saraki group in the Senate has started a process of fence mending with their colleagues in the Unity Forum, although those being approached so far are said to be evasive on backpedaling on the case of forgery they have started pursuing.
There are indications that the crises in the Senate may compel an extension of resumption by legislators by an additional week in order for the principal officials to gain sufficient time to address the crisis of confidence among members in general.