Senate Forgery: Police Report’s Whereabouts Unknown
There is confusion over the final report of the police investigation into the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 with conflicting claims by both the police and the justice ministry on the status of the report.
While the police insisted on Tuesday that they had sent the report to the Ministry of Justice for possible prosecution of suspects, the ministry official said the report had not been received.
A source however confided in The PUNCH that the police had yet to return the report to the ministry.
The allegedly forged 2015 edition of the Senate Standing Orders was used for the conduct of the election of Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively, shortly after the proclamation of the 8th Senate on June 9, 2015.
The police had sent an initial report to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for proper legal advice but the AGF office had sent the report back to the police, asking them to conduct a better investigation of the allegation.
In the initial report, the police confirmed that “some group of senators” criminally amended the Senate Standing Orders 2011 to produce the 2015 edition.
But the Directorate of Public Prosecutions of the Federal Ministry of Justice had sought for more information on the senators that allegedly amended the document.
The whereabouts of the final police report now appears unknown.
While several sources in the ministry confirmed to one of our correspondents on Tuesday that the police had yet to respond to the request for further investigation, the police on the other hand claimed that they had responded to the ministry’s inquiry.
“The police have not responded to the inquiry by the ministry and the DPP yet. If they have responded, maybe their response is on its way,” a top ministry source told one of our correspondents on Tuesday.
Another lawyer in the ministry had told The PUNCH on Monday that the ministry had yet to hear from the police on the status of the report.
“We have written to the police but we have not heard from them,” the lawyer said.
But the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, told one of our correspondents on Tuesday that the police had responded to the ministry’s inquiry.
“We have sent to them (Ministry of Justice) the letter; I can’t remember the exact day but I’m sure we have sent it and we have been cooperating with them to ensure speedy prosecution of the case,” the police spokesman said.
When contacted on Tuesday, the Director of Information in the justice ministry, Mr. Charles Nwodo, said he was not aware of any development on the case.
“I don’t know anything about the case,”’ he said.
The PUNCH had on August 4 exclusively reported that the grey areas, which the ministry was seeking clarification on from the police, included information on the “group of senators” involved in the illegal amendment.
The 13-page police report had reportedly confirmed that the amendment of the 2011 version of the Senate Standing Orders 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 Inspector-General of Police, Dan’Azumi 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 whether the alleged offence could be regarded as an internal affair of the Senate.
The forgery allegation arose from a petition by Senator Sulaiman Hunkuyi of the All Progressives Congress from Kaduna State.
The petitioner had alleged that some parts of the 2015 Senate Orders were different from the one ratified by the 6th Senate in 2010, which was used by the 7th Senate, as Standing Orders 2011.
The police, in the course of their investigation, had on July 6 questioned some members of the 7th and the 8th Senates as well as some management employees of the Senate, including the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa.
A study of the controversial 2015 Senate Standing Orders, Rule 3, as contained on page four of the document, which has to do with the election of presiding officers, showed that it was different from the 2011 Senate Standing Orders.
Rules 3(e) (i) and (ii) had been included in the 2015 document to accommodate electronic voting and secret ballot, whereas secret ballot and ballot papers were not specifically mentioned in the 2011 Standing Orders.