The newspapers for Monday, June 20, focus on the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy Ekweremadu over alleged forgery of the Senate rules and the implementation of the flexible exchange rate policy which takes effect today.
Vanguard reports that the upper chamber of the House on Sunday, June 19, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the plot by the attorney general, Abubakar Malami, and other senior officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from using the courts to truncate the Senate leadership election.
It warned that any attempt to charge Senators Saraki and Ekweremadu would be seen as an infringement on the independence of the legislative branch of government.
According to the Punch, the Senate described the forgery against principal officers of the Senate as a coup against the legislature.
The upper House, in a statement by the chairman, Senate committee on media and public affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, yesterday described the forgery case as unconstitutional and a violation of the principles of separation of powers, checks and balances.
Abdullahi alleged that the prosecution of the principal officers was aimed at forcing a leadership change in the chamber, adding that such move was capable of plunging the country into anarchy and constitutional crisis.
To the Senate spokesman said charging the officials is “unconstitutional” because the matter has been dealt with at plenary, The Nation reports.
Part of the statement by the spokesman stated that: “After reading in the national newspapers and online platforms of the planned charges of forgery and conspiracy preferred against the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, immediate past Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Ben Efeturi and reviewing the circumstances leading to the filing of these charges, we are compelled to alert the good people of Nigeria and the international community, that our democracy is in danger and that the attempt by the Executive Arm of the Federal Government to muzzle the legislature and criminalise legislative processes in order to cause leadership change in the National Assembly is a return to the era of impunity and lack of respect for due process which we all fought to abolish.
“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to please call his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to order. The Senate of the Federal Republic voted freely to elect its leadership into office and continuing attempts to change that leadership through the wanton abuse of judicial processes cannot stand in the eyes of the world.
“It is clear that the Attorney General and party leaders behind this action either lack the understanding of the underlining principles of constitutional democracy, the concept of separation of powers, checks and balances and parliamentary convention or they just simply do not care if the present democracy in the country survives or collapses in their blinded determination to get Saraki and Ekweremadu by all means necessary, including abuse of office and sacking the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to the Sun the Senate spokesperson said the trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu is counterproductive to governance, adding that “instead of these attempts to distract and politicise governance. We are in a state of economic emergency such that what the National Assembly needs at this time are executive bills and proposals aimed at resolving the crises of unemployment, currency depreciation, inflation, crime and insecurity”.
He said: “What the National Assembly needs now are executive bills to build and strengthen institutions to earn revenues, fight corruption and eliminate waste. Instead, we are getting hostile actions aimed at destabilising the National Assembly, distracting Senators from their oversight functions and ensuring good and accountable governance.”
The Senate further maintained: “We must make it clear here to the individuals in the Executive arm and party leadership behind these plots not to mistake the maturity and hand of co-operation being extended to the Presidency by the legislature as a sign of weakness.
“The National Assembly bent backwards to accommodate various infractions and inefficiencies in pursuit of inter-arms co-operation and national interest. We did not follow up the various infractions because we believe there are bigger issues which the government has to attend to in order to ensure that every Nigerian have food on his table and live comfortably in a secure environment. We know that the country is actually in a state of economic emergency and all hands must be on deck.”
Meanwhile, there is also anxiety within the banking industry over the implications of the expected exchange rate increase to between N275 and N300 on the existing Non-Performing Loans (NPLs), Guardian reports.
As the policy takes off today, June 20, the significant exchange rate adjustment has raised new worries that the ability of customers to repay the existing dollar obligations would be constrained further.
A top bank chief, who is close to the group that is determining the appropriate value for which the naira will be traded told The Guardian that there is the likelihood of further default, leading to increased impairment provision and outright write-off in the industry.
Already, the individual banks’ share of the backlog has been concentrated on 10 banks, while the composition of the demand ranges from maturing letters of credit, cash and profit repatriation and foreign investment outflows.
Citing analysis, the newspaper reports that the pressure points are led by demands from the general commerce customers, given the limited scope they have to pass on this cost to their customers; power; manufacturing; real estate; and construction sectors.
“Given their relatively higher exposure to the general commerce sector, we are more concerned about the implications of this for the likes of Zenith Bank, 22 per cent; Diamond Bank, 19 per cent; Stanbic, 12 per cent; FCMB, nine per cent; and Skye Bank, eight per cent,” the Sub Saharan Banking Analyst and Research, Nigeria, Adesoji Solanke, said.
Others are Access Bank, 10 per cent; United Bank for Africa, nine per cent; Guaranty Trust Bank, seven per cent; First Bank, five per cent; and Fidelity Bank, five per cent.