By Wahab Akanji, AbujaÂ
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has faulted the position of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on the ongoing trial of the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.Ekweremadu is being tried alongside the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and two others for alleged forgery of the 2015 Senate standing rules.Â
Odigie-Oyegun was quoted to have said that the emergence of Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President rankled the APC, adding that the APC found it very, very difficult to accept Ekweremadu’s emergence. Ekweremadu is of the PDP.Â
In a statement on Tuesday, the spokesman of the caretaker committee of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the opposition party described the trial as harassment of the accused persons.Â
He described the criminal charges against the principal officers as phantom and shenanigan.
“We however, want to make it clear that the APC has no constitutional or moral grounds to be displeased with Ekweremadu’s emergence or to go this ridiculous length to harass, intimidate, embarrass, and malign him and the institution of the Senate on account of a position to which his colleagues, cutting across party lines, elected him in a transparent and televised election in line with Section 50 of the 1999 Constitution as amended”, Adeyeye stated.Â
He recalled that the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari had commended the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal when he defected from the PDP to APC in 2014 and still retained his position as Speaker.Â
Adeyeye also recalled that the then National Publicity Secretary of the APC and the present Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had similarly hailed Tambuwal’s defection to the APC.Â
Mohammed had gone ahead to described Tambuwal’s defection as “a balanced setting in government and democracy”, adding that the defection had the backing of history and the constitution.Â
The statement also quoted President Buhari to have hailed the defection this, “We will like to thank Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal for what he did yesterday. We were overwhelmed. Taking such a remarkable risk and sending everybody on holidays till December is an achievement”.Â
The Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was then the Minority Leader, was similarly quoted to have hailed Tambuwal’s defection.Â
The statement quoted Gbajabiamila to have said, “We are proud to acknowledge that the Speaker remains not only a member of the House of Representatives, but also its Speaker. This position is consistent with the law and practice in a presidential system of government and Nigeria is no different. For the avoidance of doubt, the constitution requires only that the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be elected by members of that House from among themselves”.Â
Citing similar developments in the present dispensation, the PDP alluded to Benue and Plateau states Houses of Assembly where the Speakers were elected from minority APC despite the PDP having majority of members.Â
“The Majority PDP made do with the position of Deputy Speaker in both instances, but accepted this as part of our democratic evolution.Â
“We therefore, invite the APC-led Federal Government to tell the world why bi-partisan leadership in the legislature was good in the instances of Rt. Hon. Tambuwal as well as the Benue and Plateau Assemblies, but an abomination in the case of Senator Ekweremadu.Â
“We consider APC’s stance on Ekweremadu and his continued persecution on this account as the height of duplicity, intolerance, and executive excesses unwarranted and inexcusable in a democracy.Â
“More so, unlike APC’s rancorous opposition in parliament in the recent past, the PDP lawmakers, including Senator Ekweremadu have provided a very responsible opposition, supporting the government and overlooking its serial fumbles. Ekweremadu is not APC’s stumbling block!Â
“We wish to remind the APC that the National Assembly is a separate arm of government created by the Constitution, not an arm of the Executive or extension of the APCâ€™s party secretariat.
“We totally align with the separate resolutions of the Senate and House of Representatives on 21st of June 2016 to the effect that our democracy is in grave danger.Â
“We support the call on members of the international community, the media, and civil society to help arrest this scary deterioration of our nascent democracy and democratic values before it is too late.Â
“A sauce for the goose is a sauce for the gander”, the PDP added.