Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT) on Tuesday warned the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government to desist from its attempt to “rope” the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in the allegation of forgery.
Ekweremadu along with Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa and Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, Benedict Efeturi, are being tried for alleged forgery of Senate Standing Orders 2011.
The group which issued this warning when it paid a solidarity visit to the PDP caucus in the Senate yesterday, said Ekweremadu was overwhelmingly elected as the Deputy Senate President on June 9, 2016 by 48 senators along with some of his APC counterparts and any attempt to remove him will be counter-productive.
Speaking on behalf of the group, its chairman, Walid Jibril, said the federal government should leave Ekweremadu alone and allow him to do his job, threatening that any insistence to remove him will have an adverse effect on democracy.
The BoT Chairman said: “We are here to show solidarity and recognise the leadership of Senator Ekweremadu, especially when we hear stories of what is happening to him. We are here to give our total support to him over the recent framing of him in an alleged forgery case, because we cannot, as fathers and conscience of the party, sit down and just watch.
“Senator Ekweremadu is a man of integrity with a high record of performance. We want to advise strongly that nobody should try to tarnish his personality and we are strongly calling for fair hearing and justice in the attempt to rope-in Ekweremadu for political reasons.
“He was elected Deputy President of Senate by 48 PDP senators with the support of APC senators, which is a good omen for our democracy. No attempt should be made to rope him in. He should be left alone to continue the good service to the country,” he said.
Wali also assured the senators that the PDP would soon increase the number of senators in the National Executive Council (NEC) of the PDP from its current 12 as he promised that the trustees would continue to partner with them because they have done well and made the party proud.
On the crisis rocking the PDP, Wali said the party would ensure an amicable resolution of the crisis pointing out that all those who had instituted one case or the other in the court should go and withdraw it.
He also said all parties to the crisis had been advised to remain calm and shun violence, vowing that the PDP will win all forthcoming elections especially in Edo State.
Also speaking, a member of the BoT and former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara, said the era of executive interference in legislative business was over given the spirit of support among senators.
“I speak as a victim of executive interference in the legislature. During our own time, there was not the kind of unity being exhibited by the senators today. I want to commend and salute you all for that. The last time the two presiding officers went to court, as I watched on television, I was moved to tears. The court was on vacation, and no one had the courtesy of informing them before hand.
“The time they would have used to attend to the nation’s task, was wasted, going to court. It is high time the executive realizes that the era of executive interference was over,” Wabara, added.
Responding on behalf of the senators, Ekweremadu who thanked the BoT members for their show of solidarity for PDP senators, said the move confirmed that the BoT is indeed the conscience of the party.
Ekweremadu also claimed that former members of PDP who defected to APC prior to the 2015 general election are currently warming up to return to the party because they have realised that voting for APC was an error.
According to him, the PDP is committed to the welfare of Nigerians as well as the ideals of democracy and rule of law as he restated the commitments of senators to the party adding that as senators proceed on recess tomorrow, they will actively participate in the ongoing governorship election campaign in Edo State.
He said: “You have shown that you are indeed our fathers and mothers and I cannot see any parent who will sit aside and watch his children being persecuted without showing concern and solidarity.”
You have actually lived up to the expectations of well meaning Nigerians, and the idea behind founding the BoT, by its founding fathers.
“As a party, we are committed to the ideals of democracy, especially the issues of the rule of law. We cannot run away from the fact that without the rule of law, there will be no country. We, as a party, remain committed to the rule of law, which is synonymous with democracy. And we shall continue to do everything possible to preserve it.”