The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the country, Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday, for the second time in a week, shunned the summons of the senate to appear before it to explain his role in the criminal prosecution of Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu over alleged forgery of the senate standing rules 2015
It was gathered that Malami jetted out of the country to Saudi Arabia last night to perform his religious obligations and subsequently sent the Special Adviser to the President on Prosecution, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla to represent him at the parley.
However, members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, which extended the summons to Malami, objected to the appearance of Obla.
The lawmakers insisted that the committee would not entertain any other person apart from the minister himself.
Subsequently, Obla was asked to leave the senate hearing room 313, venue of the proposed parley.
Fielding questions from newsmen on his way out, Obla stated that the senate lacked the jurisdiction to summon the minister over the said trial.
He maintained that Malami merely acted under the powers conferred on him by section 174 of the constitution as amended, to institute the criminal proceeding against Saraki, Ekweremadu and the out-going Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the immediate Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Ben Efeture.
According to the Presidential aide, the court action was consequent upon the conclusion of the investigation of the forgery allegation by the police and the implication of the four National Assembly officers.
The senate last week Tuesday passed a resolution, summoning Malami to appear before its committee to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the current trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu over the forgery allegation.
Consequent upon that resolution, the committee invited the AGF to appear before it last week Thursday, but the minister declined the invitation and instead requested an extension of time to enable him prepare his responses to the issues raised by the committee.
The committee in response to the request rescheduled the invitation for yesterday.
Irked by the non appearance of Malami, the lawmakers said the presence of Obla was a slap on the senate because he was not the AGF.
Only three out of the eight member committee were present at the hearing yesterday. They include the chairman, David Umoru (Niger East), Joshua Lidani (Gombe South) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North).
Lidani in a brief remark noted that the invitation was to the AGF, who is the chief law officer of the country and that it was the hope of the committee that his (Malami) presence would have shed light on the issue of the trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu.
Article by George Oji