Barely 24 hours after Senator Shuaibu Lau representing Taraba North in Taraba State was sworn-in by the President of Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, concerned Nigerians have accused the leadership of the Senate of double standard.
The respondents wondered why the Senate president has refused to honour the judgement of an Uyo Federal High Court that ordered that Senator-Elect, Hon Bassey Etim should be sworn -in but rather obeyed the judgement of supreme Court on the same pre-election matter involving Senator Lau of Taraba state.
In a swift reaction to Senator Lau’s swearing -in on Wednesday, a constitutional lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Barrister Reuben Egwuaba said Saraki acted in fragrant disobedient to law and order.
According to lawyer “The refusal of the Senate President to swear-in Hon Bassey Etim who has a similar matter with that of Senator Shuaibu Lau of Taraba State and Attai Aidoko of Kogi state is a sad moment of our democracy.”
He said, “The Senate President Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki is a Senator elected from his senatorial district in the country and apart from the office that he occupies as the Chairman of National Assembly and president of the Senate, he does not have any other right different from other senators that were voted in from other senatorial districts in the country.
“In a democratic set up like Nigeria both the Judiciary and the Legislature and expected to work as equal partners. The Senate President is not suppose to serve as a sabotage to a positive and subsisting order of the court of competent jurisdiction.”
He argued that Saraki’s refusal to swear-in Hon Bassey Etim is in contradiction with the administration of justice, adding “The position of the Senate President is not in anyway expected to be bias to the swearing-in order given by a constituted authority.”
He noted that the legal implication in Saraki’s action shows that having disobeyed a Federal High Court directing to swear-in Etim, Etim’s lawyers should file a suit seeking judicial interpretation of Saraki’s action.
“Hon Bassey has an opportunity to file an application in a Federal High Court to seek an interpretation of the relevant provision of the constitution and the Electoral Act and other superior courts for interpretation of whether the pronouncement of a Federal High Court in a matter that a court delivered a judgement and the Senate President refusal to comply with a judgement that has not been set aside even when there is no pending motion of stay of execution or evidence of an Appeal,” he added”
Similarly Hon Bassey Etim in his reaction said the action of Senate President in his case is an infringement on the rights of the people of Akwa Ibom North East who gave him the mandate to represent them in the Upper House.
“Well the action of the Senate President in my case infringes on the right of the people of Akwa Ibom North/East senatorial district because as of today the senatorial district has no representation in the Senate and Saraki by this act, is interfering in the judicial process by not obeying the judgement of a Federal High Court that directed that I should be sworn in.
“Aside from that what the Senate President requires to swear-in any Senator-elect, including myself is Certificate of Return and the acknowledgment receipt of Asset Declaration form which I have complied with and forwarded to him.
“So uptill now Saraki is being entangled in the politics of Akwa Ibom state which he has no business in. The people of Akwa Ibom North/East have made their position known on who they voted for and the court of competent jurisdiction has also looked into the matter and agreed with them that they actually voted for me,” he said.
Continuing Etim said, “It is for the Senate President to swear me in and his refusal to do that is an attack not only on the people of Akwa Ibom North East but an attack on the judiciary and the Executive that is represented by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).”
“The Senate President was not a party to the suit between me and Albert Bassey Akpan and as such he should not seat down in the Senate and constitute himself into an appellant court by determine who to swear in and who not to to swear in.
“Senate is not a court and as such he should allow the court to carry out its functions. Saraki’s refusal to swear me in is an infringement on the rights of Akwa Ibom North East and an aberration on the participatory process of my people. Today we are talking of restructuring of Nigeria but the actual restructuring should start in the Senate.”