The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has given the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation and the police a two-week ultimatum to prefer charges against suspects, who allegedly forged the Senate Standing Orders used for the proclamation of the current 8th Senate, The PUNCH has learnt.
The Senate Standing Orders 2015, alleged to be a forged version of the 2011 version, was used for the leadership election of the Senate, which produced Dr. Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy, shortly after the 8th Senate was proclaimed on June 9, 2015.
Top sources in the Federal Ministry of Justice and the police headquarters confirmed that Malami had given the police and the DPP of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Diri, two weeks to file charges against the suspected forgers.
It was learnt that Malami called for the file on the case last week and found out that the ministry had since July 29, 2015, some months before his appointment, recommended the prosecution of the yet-to-be-identified suspects.
The minister was also said to have discovered in the file that the ministry had requested the police to further investigate the case in order to unravel the suspects and the roles played by them in the case.
The sources confirmed that the suspects would be charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, breach of official trust and unlawful assembly said to have contravened various provisions of Penal Code in about one or two weeks.
This confirmed The PUNCH’s exclusive story published on April 4, 2016, that the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, had, on July 29, 2015, issued a legal advice for the prosecution of the suspects after considering the report of investigation submitted to him by the police.
The PUNCH had reported that the legal advice, addressed to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Criminal Investigation Department of the Force Headquarters, Dan’Azumi Doma, was received by the recipient’s office on July 29, 2015, the same date it was issued by the DPPF.
The document showed that it was issued in response to the report of police investigation, with reference number CB: 3514/XFQ/ABJ/Vol./23/17, which was sent to the Ministry of Justice by Doma, quoting the number given to the case by the police as FHQ/X/ABJ/SEB/365/2015.
The legal advice as reported by The PUNCH had sought further police investigation to unravel who played what roles in the forgery case in order to identify who to prosecute for flouting the various provisions of the Penal Code.
“When the minister saw all these in the file, he had to call on the officers in charge of the case and asked them to liaise with the police and come up with the charges within two weeks,” the source said.
One of the sources said the minister was patiently taking his time to take decision on the case because “he is aware that there are a lot of vested interests that are out to frustrate the case.”
The source added, “But I can assure you, in one or two weeks’ time, the minister’s decision on the case is going to be made known to the public and you will be impressed.”
Our correspondent had sighted the legal advice issued by the Federal Ministry of Justice with reference number, DPPA/ADV/258/15, recommending that some suspects, whom the police refused to name in their investigative report, should be prosecuted.
The legal opinion, which analysed the evidence thrown up by the police investigation, had indicated that the “leadership election, based on the forged document, cannot stand and it is null and void”.
The legal advice added, “Further investigation should reveal:
“Who authorised the promulgation of the Senate Standing Order 2015?
“Who published the Senate Standing Order 2015?
“Who approved the Senate Standing Order 2015?
“Who paid for the publishing of the Senate Standing Order 2015? and
“Who distributed the Senate Standing Order 2015?”
In addition, the legal advice recommended the yet-to-be-identified suspects to be prosecuted “for criminal conspiracy, contrary to provision of Section 97 of the Penal Code; forgery, contrary to Section 99 of Penal Code; breach of official trust and unlawful assembly contrary to Section 102 of the Penal Code.”
The legal advice also recommended that the various versions of the Senate Standing Orders since 1999 should be collected as part of evidence needed for the prosecution of the case.
When contacted on Sunday, Malami’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Salihu Isah, said he had no information on the case and requested to be given time to find out.
“I have not received any briefing on it. Give me some time to make inquiries about it,” Isah said.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Bisi Kolawole, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, did not respond to calls put across to her mobile by our correspondent on Sunday.
The police had investigated the alleged forgery of the Senate Orders following a petition by Senator Sulaiman Hunkuyi of the All Progressives Congress from Kaduna State.
The petition had alleged that some parts of the 2015 Senate Order were different from the one ratified by the 6th Senate and was used by the 7th Senate, as Standing Orders 2011.
The police had, during their investigation on July 6, questioned some members of the 7th and the 8th Senate as well as some management employees of the Senate, including the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa.
It was alleged that the 2011 version of the Senate Orders was secretly altered by some individuals to produce the 2015 edition.
The 13-page police report of the police investigation had confirmed that the amendment to the 2011 version of the Senate Standing Order to produce the 2015 edition was “criminally” done as it was carried out by only a group of senators.
The police report, however, failed to indict any particular person and also did not recommend anybody for prosecution.
The Deputy IGP, Doma, who was said to have signed the report, had recommended that the report be forwarded to the AGF to determine whether a crime had been committed or the alleged offence could be regarded as an internal affair of the Senate. (Punch)