Akwa Ibom senatorial seat controversy: Rights group storms Nigeria over call to ban Saraki, 10 others from entering U.S.


The controversy surrounding the refusal by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, to inaugurate Hon Bassey Etim as a senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District as ordered by a competent court of jurisdiction is gradually assuming an international dimension.
This is because less than two weeks after a United Nations rights group, People’s Right to Life Development Foundation (PELDEF), requested the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States Congress to ban Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and 10 other principal members of the Senate from entering the U.S. over refusal to swear in Etim, officials of a global rights group based in the U.S. Center for Justice in Politics, have visited Nigeria on a fact-finding mission.
PELDEF, it would be recalled, had accused the Saraki-led Senate of using double standard to steer governance in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, citing its flagrant failure to obey a four-month old judgement of a Federal High Court, Uyo which directed Saraki to inaugurate Etim as the senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District.
PELDEF had also copied dozens of global rights groups including Centre for Justice in Politics, with focus on legislative procedures and fighting for political justice.
The U.S. rights group, which visited Nigeria on the fact-finding mission has, however, expressed shock over its findings, saying Saraki and the principal officers of the senate deserved to be banned from entering the U.S., apart from other necessary sanctions.
The position of Centre for Justice in Politics was contained in a letter dated July 17 which represents an abstract of its executive summary report.
The letter which was addressed to the National Secretary of PELDEF which earlier petitioned the Congressional Caucus of the US, Comrade Ali Abacha, was signed by its Vice President (Operations), Gabe Harrison.
The letter reads in full: “As you may know, our organization, The Center For Justice In Politics (Center4JIP), is a non-profit organization based in the Atlanta area of the USA. We are primarily engaged in legislative procedures training, fighting for political justice and political consulting, in developing countries.
“This is to first acknowledge receipt of your letter, dated July 7, 2017, with the accompanying supporting documents.
“Secondly, we want to inform you that after reviewing all the supporting documents and confirming the authenticity of the High Court ruling in Uyo and the Certificate of Return issued to Mr. Bassey Etim by Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, we agree that the failure to swear in Mr. Etim to the Senate is unjust and a blatant abuse of power on the part of Nigeria’s Senate President, Mr. Saraki.
“Consequently and as contained in your letter to the Black Congressional Caucus, we will disseminate this information to other like entities to secure a ban on Mr. Saraki and others from entering the USA.
“We will take other steps to seek redress for this abnormally and you will be kept abreast of our actions going forward.
“Thank you for being our partners in our struggle for justice in politics, especially in developing countries, like Nigeria,” Harrison signed off.
The United Nations  Universal Periodic Review (UPR) organization operating under the name and style of People’s Right to Life Development Foundation (PELDEF) had urged the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States of America Congress to ban Saraki and the senate principal members from entering the US over their alleged use of double standard to steer governance in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
The rights group which called for urgent sanction of Saraki leadership had cited the failure by Dr Saraki in alleged connivance with ten other principal officers of the senate to refuse to inaugurate Hon Bassey Etim as member of the red chamber on the valid order of a Federal high court in Uyo more than four months ago.
The group said that Saraki though was under obligation to obey court order directing him to swear in Bassey Etim but that he refused to perform his constitutional duty over what it called ‘a laughable’ ground of seeking legal advice from ordinary individuals after a competent judiciary institution had pronounced on the case, thereby usurping judiciary function.
PELDEF said Saraki’s excuse to delay inauguration of Etim four months after a competent court of jurisdiction had so ordered was laughable because the same Saraki-led senate had obeyed similar order from the same court of jurisdiction and status to swear in senators from Kogi State.
In the letter written to the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States of America Congress, signed by its Chairman of Board of Trustees, Comrade Ifot Ifot, the group urged the body to sanction Saraki and his principal officers on the account that his (Saraki) mode of operation has the capacity to truncate the country’s democracy.
Specifically, the group called on the US Congress to ban the leadership of the Nigerian Senate from entering the US since they had refused to respect the rule of law.
The letter reads in part: “Sir, four months after the ‎court directed that Bassey Etim should be sworn in as a Senator of the Federal republic of Nigeria, the leadership of the Senate ignored the court order, but rather continues to allow the sacked senator to participate in the activities of the senate as a Senator.
“This act of impunity is un-becoming of the highest law making body of Nigeria.
“If left unchecked and without any sanction on the leadership of the Senate, it may create a dangerous precedence that will not only derail Nigeria’s democracy but will also create untold abuse of human dignity in Nigeria.
“Accordingly, we call for a severe sanction of the senate leadership including banning of the leadership of the ‎Nigerian senate from entering the United States of America in order to serve as deterrence to others.


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