Facts have emerged concerning the despicable role the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, played in the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as president of the Senate on Tuesday.
Eminent Nigerians, one of them Law professor Itse Sagay, blamed Maikasuwa for the fraudulent emergence of Saraki as Senate President.
Maikasuwa, who became Clerk of the National Assembly on 16 August, 2010, was aware of the meeting All Progressives Congress, APC, Senators were going to have with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday morning but went ahead with the inauguration of the 8th Senate.
Reports said he was informed on phone about the meeting and advised to delay the inauguration to enable the APC senators attend it but he ignored the request and pandered to the wishes of the conspirators of what has been dubbed a coup by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, by hastily allowing the election to go on, even without the senators forming a quorum.
Maikasuwa, who formally took over from Mr Oluyemi Ogunyomi on 16 August, 2010, as Clerk of the National Assembly, clearly betrayed his loyalty to Senator David Mark, immediate past Senate President, whom he worked with for almost six years, going by his conduct on Tuesday.
The fraud hurriedly perpetrated by Maikasuwa and other conspirators has been roundly condemned by eminent Nigerians. One of those who condmened the entire process that led to the emergence of Saraki as Senate President is Sagay who believes the election of Saraki and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu by some senators smacks of legislative impunity.
The Senior Advocate said in an interview on Television Continental (TVC) on Wednesday that the emergence of Saraki and Ekweremadu cannot pass for a victory for democracy but a victory for impunity, fraud, desperation and indiscipline.
According to Sagay, “If you look at the moral point of view, that purported election was fraudulent. When you purport to hold an election deliberately in the absence of your opponent, knowing that he is absent, and intending to win at any cost unopposed by ensuring that absence, that constitutes fraud. Not only that, I think it’s an act of gross indiscipline, not just against his party, but against the whole country because we are all stakeholders in the electoral process, in who becomes the Senate President and we all felt cheated because there was no proper election.
“Again it’s also an act of gross impunity. In effect, he was saying ‘I know my opponent is keenly interested in contesting, I know my opponent is not here yet, and therefore, I will rush an election in his absence in order to be certain of victory at any cost.’ It’s absolutely unacceptable in a decent democracy.”
He also said the Assembly Clerk, Maikasuwa, is culpable. “To start with, there is an aspect of deceit in the whole thing. That’s why I think it is also illegal and fraudulent. The APC Senators were told that the President was going to have a meeting with them and that they should all gather there (International Conference Centre). Clearly, in such circumstances, the last thing they would think of is that there would be an election in their absence. So, there was fraud. Who was responsible? Somebody summoned that meeting.
“The Clerk of the National Assembly was fully aware that only PDP senators were present in the Chambers. A sprinkling of APC members there were trying to remind him and he ruled the person out of order. So, for me, that gives the impression that the Clerk of the National Assembly was involved in the conspiracy. That is the impression. What is more, even if that did not happen, I will accuse him of involvement because he knew without being told that only one party was present and that surely cannot have been the spirit of the Constitution when it says that once the proclamation has been made, members of Senate who have just been elected would then appoint their officers.
“That’s not what it intended. It didn’t intend that some people would be diverted away and one party would then come there in their absence and fraudulently elect somebody of their wish in the absence of the hapless group that has been deceived out of the Assembly. Who do I blame? I blame the clerk of the National Assembly, because he’s the person responsible for all this. He might have been pressured and all that, but nothing would have happened if he did not participate in the conspiracy. So I blame him primarily.”
Sagay further stated that there was no quorum for electing principal officers. “There is the law, and there is the spirit of the law. If you practice the law, or implement the law, or enforce the law without the spirit, it is void. It’s just like a body which doesn’t have a soul or spirit, that body is dead. The law says that a quorum is one-third, and that when you are taking decisions, unless it is exceptionally stated, generally when you are taking decisions, then a simple majority is all that is required.
“Those are the dry letters of the law. In this particular issue, we have a new Senate being proclaimed. We have a Senate which has many parties. What has happened is that the party that has the majority was somehow deceived out of the premises and other people went behind and surreptitiously and fraudulently purported to have Senate proceedings going on. That fraud cannot be legitimate regardless of the technical words of the Constitution, because the spirit is not there.”
He said “Senator Saraki cannot enjoy any legitimacy because he is there by fraud; he is there by impunity; he is there by the grossest act of indiscipline of the worst type of political culture. So, he lacks legitimacy. He may be sitting there now but nobody has any respect for that seat as long as he sits there because he has brought shame on the whole country. Now, as far as I am concerned, this people have a right to go to court, because a fraudulent election cannot constitute a legitimate basis for establishing Senate leadership. It was a fraudulent election.
“What really happened yesterday (Tuesday), in my view, is not a victory for democracy, but a victory for impunity, a victory for fraud and a victory for political desperation and indiscipline, and it must not stand. If we in this country are to go with the new change brought by the fresh breath of air that is blowing across the country, if we are to sustain it, then what happened yesterday (Tuesday) must be swept away because it is contrary to the fibre of the whole Nigeria.
“My opposition to his sitting illegitimately in that office is not because of his (Saraki’s) “baggage”; he may not be my first choice. But if he had won legitimately, in a fair, square and equitable way, I would have no objection. Yes, he has a huge baggage. Presently as far as I know, he’s under investigation and possibly a lot of inquiry by the EFCC. The matter has not been cleared.
“Normally, it would be better for the first arm of government – that is what the legislature is, and he is the third most senior political personality in the country – for that person to have a clear table; not to have any baggage hanging around his neck, because if you have a heavy baggage like that hanging on your neck, and you’re presiding over such an important establishment, then that establishment is also going to carry that heavy weight of a burden along with you, and it will necessarily affect the respect and intergrity which his decisions will have and the whole process of operation of that institution will be impeded by that heavy load.”