The position of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is exalted in the great nation called Nigeria. His functions include the supervision of ministries and their activities as well as policy formulation for the Federal Government. It is such a highly coveted office because the occupants the fulcrum of the day to day running of government.
In a democracy, he or she is the bridge that links the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary as he supervises the ministers that fall under the purview of each arm of government. Over the years, the office has been occupied by distinguished Nigerians from different fields of endeavour. They have brought so much class, respect and candour to the office and made it a position that significantly defines the government of the day.
The current occupant is Babachir David Lawal, appointed on August 27, 2025 by President Muhammadu Buhari. Born October 2, 1964, Lawal’s preoccupation with the trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, and two others for alleged forgery has raised not a few eyebrows. He ruffled feathers recently when he issued a statement endorsing their trial.
Not a few observers wondered when it became the preoccupation of the SGF with a matter concerning a separate arm of government. In what was a brazen violation of the principle of separation of powers, Lawal went to befuddling lengths to argue why he thought the trial of both distinguished Nigerians was in order. Here was a man, who ought to be sufficiently occupied with finding solutions to the challenges of governing Nigeria, but who had enough time to delve into a matter purely outside his purview.
In a statement he personally signed and issued on June 29, 2016, Lawal wrote in part: ” Since the arraignment of the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki and, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, before the Federal High Court on Monday, June 27, 2016, the two leaders of the Senate have issued two separate press statements conveying messages that are far from being complementary to the person and government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Senator Saraki, in his statement, clearly insinuated that Mr President is not in control of his administration and that a cabal now runs the federal administration. On the part of Senator Ekweremadu, he insists that President Buhari is exhibiting dictatorial tendencies that can derail our democracy. “From their statements, the two leaders of the Senate also gave this erroneous impression that by their arraignment, it is the entire Senate and indeed, the legislative arm of government that is on trial.
They want the public to believe that their prosecution is utter disregard by the executive arm of government for the constitutional provisions of separation of powers and that preferring the forgery case against them is a vendetta exercise. “Since this case is in court, the judiciary should be allowed to do its job. However, it is important to emphasise that this case involves only the four accused persons and should not be presented to the unsuspecting public as involving the entire Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The complaint leading to the forgery investigation was reported to the police by some aggrieved senators, who specifically accused certain persons. It is not the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is involved and definitely not the House of Representatives. To bring the national assembly as a body into this court case is totally unwarranted. It can only be for other purposes and reasons outside the investigation and legal proceedings. “A case of forgery is usually preferred against individuals. This is not different. As was the case with a former speaker of the House of Representatives, who was accused of certificate forgery, what he did was to resign, honourably.
“The matter did not even go to court. In that particular case, it was never orchestrated as a matter for the National Assembly. The individual involved did not drag the entire legislature into the matter.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has a full complement of media sides. But in a shameful case of usurpation of functions and questionable indolence, the SGF sought to B heard. This was, perhaps, borne out of s desire to curry favour with Buhari, who is currently not happy with the lacklustre performance of some members of his administration. Perhaps, Lawal is afraid of his shadows and is not sure if he won’t be thrown out in an imminent purge of the administration by Buhari. So, he decided to drag his exalted office into a matter that was already before a court.
The Senate, expectedly, gave him back in full dose. You cannot expect a hallowed chamber of Distinguished elected Nigerian legislators to keep quiet while a mere appointee casts aspersions on their president and the nation’s Number Three Man.
In a deserving response written by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate said: “We note the statement issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal, that the Senate is not the one on trial in the Forgery case instituted by the Attorney-General of the Federation against the Senate President and his deputy. “We disagree with him on this position and we maintain our earlier stand that it is the Senate that is the target of the present attempt to intimidate the legislature to force a leadership change in the Senate.
“Mr. Babachir Lawal should tell us how reasonable it is to conclude that when the President of Nigeria and the Vice President are being jointly tried in a suit whose outcome can remove them from office, it is not the Buhari government that is being targeted? “It is also imperative to clearly state that contrary to the claim by the SGF, neither the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, nor Senator Ike Ekweremadu was mentioned by the petitioners, the statements by those interviewed by the police or even the police report.
Don’t compare an apple with orange “Meanwhile, let us refresh Mr. Lawal’s memory about the facts of the 1999 case. It is obvious that the Senate President and his deputy are not being accused of certificate forgery as it happened in ex-Speaker Salisu Buhari’s case. “Therefore, nobody should compare an apple with orange. Also, neither Saraki nor Ekweremadu is below the age requirement for their present position as it was alleged in the Buhari case. Attempts to make the two situations look similar is to present all Nigerians as having no sense of history.
“We also know that nobody can be accused of forging his own signature. The executive is in no position to determine what is the correct Standing Orders of the Senate. The Senate President and his deputy were, as at the morning of the June 9, 2015 inauguration of the Senate, mere Senators-elect and could, therefore, not have been in a position to influence any alteration in the rule book.
“The Senate, as an institution, and, indeed, the National Assembly, has spoken about their understanding of the present assault on their independence by the executive. “We maintain that this trial is a design by the executive to criminalize the internal affairs of the Senate to create a distraction for the leadership of the Senate, force a leadership change and cow the legislators.
“Those behind this plot find this trial more expedient and important than finding tangible solutions to the multi-farious socio-economic problems bedeviling the country. However, we are sure they will fail in this attempt. We only hope they will allow the judiciary to truly and creditably perform its duties and give independent verdict on the case.”
Not done, the clearly indolent SGF travelled to Yola, the capital of his home state, Adamawa, to throw more shades at Saraki and Ekweremadu.
In a clear show of disrespect for the court, Lawal made weighty pronouncements that were subjudice.
He said they “should have their day in court,” as if it was in his place to so pronounce. Going further, he then sought to pronounce on behalf of the prosecution and the judge by saying that the National Assembly was not dragged into rather than try to drag the entire National Assembly structure into the case.
In Lawal’s words: “The federal government is like a punching bag, but I don’t know why they are blaming the federal government or any person for this. When this issue started I was in the party as the National Vice Chairman. In June after the election and emergence of the leadership of the Senate, some senators petitioned the police that the document used to conduct such election was forged.”
Now, it is interesting to note that Lawal is neither a senator nor a judge. By pronouncing guilt on Saraki and Ekweremadu, on a matter before a court, he has shown clearly that he has a personal interest in the matter. That personal interest is not for justice but to please some unseen forces bent n destabilising the Senate.
That some serving and former senators are part of the plot is evidence that there are persons bent on truncating our much desired march to true democracy.
It beats the imagination how a matter which has been widely condemned in the court of public opinion has taken up the fancy of the SGF. It is not far-fetched to state that there are some destabilising forces behind the trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu for alleged forgery. They feel uneasy that both men are piloting the affairs of the Senate creditably and therefore are doing everything possible to destabilise it. They cannot imagine, in their wildest dreams, how the Senate can operate freely without being an appendage if the Presidency.
It must be noted that there is the urgent need to remind appointees of the Executive that their public comments should be limited to issues within their purview. Certainly, Lawal would need to explain to the world how the contrived trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu falls under his remit. There are so many issues awaiting his attention. He should forthwith stop interfering in matters before the court and face the task for which he was employed.
Suleiman is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja