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Under the Penal Code Act, forgery is defined in section 362 thus:“ a person is said to make a false document if:

a. who dishonestly or fraudulently makes signs, seals or executes a document or part of a document with the intention of causing it to be believed that the document or part of a document was made, signed, sealed or executed by or by the authority of a person by whom or by whose authority he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed or executed or:

b. who without lawful authority dishonestly or fraudulently by cancellation or otherwise alters a document in a material part thereof after it has been made or executed either by himself or by any other person whether such person be living or dead at the time of the alteration or,

It further went on to state in Section 366 that fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any document which he knows or has reason to believe to be a forged document, shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such document

The business of the senate is guided by the Senate standing order. However, under the 2011 standing rules, order 110 provides for the amendment of the Senate standing order. It provides thus;

1. Any Senator desiring to amend any part of the Rules or adding any new clauses shall give notice of such amendments in writing to the president of the Senate giving details of the proposed amendments.

2. The President of the Senate shall within seven working days of the receipt of the notice, cause the amendments to be printed and circulated to members. Thereafter, it shall be printed in the Order Paper of the Senate.

3. The Move or Movers of the amendment shall be allowed to explain in details the proposed amendments; thereafter the Senate shall decide by simple majority votes whether the amendments should be considered or rejected.

4. If the decision is to consider the amendments, then another date shall be set aside by the Rules and Business Committee whereby opportunity would be given to Senators to further propose amendments but must strictly be confined to the original amendments.

5. Two-thirds majority shall decide the amendments and such amendments shall form part of the Rule of the Senate.

Order 111 provides that business must continue from session to session. It states that the Legislative business of the Senate which remains undetermined at the close of a session of the Senate shall be resumed and proceeded with in same manner as if no adjournment of the Senate had taken place; and all papers referred to committees and not reported upon at the close of a session of the Senate shall be returned to the office of the Clerk of the Senate when they shall be returned to several Committees to which they had previously been referred.

In the instant case with respect to the present 2015 Standing Order, it had always been the practice (convention) of the Senate that upon the completion of the four years life span of the Senate, the rules elapses and new rules are used to govern the activities of the incoming Legislature. However, while the 2011 standing rules provides for the procedure for amendment of the 2011 Standing Order, it is silent on the revision of the new standing order for the incoming legislature. That is to say that any procedure of amendment stated in the 2011 standing order is limited to the life span of that Legislature and does not in anyway affect the regulation of activities for the incoming Legislature.

In addition, Senators where giving the 2015 Standing Order prior to the election of the Senate President and nobody raised any issue in this regard. The Fraud allegation is frivolous and an attempt to embarrass and bring the Senate to disrepute. Therefore, assuming without conceding that the 2015Senate standing order was forged, it goes to reason that Senators who have been using using these rules to regulate their activities and still went ahead to lay a report of forgery are also culpable by virtue of section 366.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is silent on such matters, in fact the 2011 Standing Order is also silent on this issue. It goes to reason that where there is a lacuna, the Management of the National Assembly is saddled with this responsibility since the Clerk of the National Assembly is the Chairman of the National Assembly in the absence of a Senate president (there shouldn't be any vacuum). Therefore he should be saddled with the responsibility of providing the rules and regulations that would govern the incoming Legislature which maybe subject to ratification.

From the foregoing, it can be validly concluded that a case of forgery cannot stand. This is because from the definition of forgery above, the following are the elements of the offence;

1. Making of a false document or writing knowing same to be false

2. With intention that such document maybe acted upon as genuine

3. Causing another to act or refrain from acting upon the alleged false document believing that such document is genuine.

It goes to reason that for there to be a forged document, there must be a genuine document. How then do we determine that the 2015 Senate Rules is forged or fake when the Senate 2011 standing Rules has become spent with effluxion of time and no longer exists? The 2015 Rules remains unimpeachable and the allegation of forgery in respect thereof is “much ado about nothing!

Written by Senator David Umaru (Niger East Senatorial District).

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