Some senators loyal to Senate President Saraki have decried Saraki’s travails, saying that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC was drifting Nigeria into a state of anarchy.
Commenting on the development, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, PDP, Ebonyi South noted that the current travail of the President of the Senate was an indication that the APC has no programme of governance for the country but to use state apparatus to witch-hunt perceived political enemies, adding that the CCT was treating Nigeria to a “new form of Constitution”, whereby a deputy director instead of the Attorney-General of the Federation was the one that took Saraki to court.
Describing Saraki’s treatment as politically motivated, Senator Ogbuoji noted that those behind the saga were not fighting for the growth of democracy, but for their selfish interest, which he said was to the detriment of the country.
When asked whether he would advise the President of the Senate to resign in view of the dimension his opponents had taken to fight him, Senator Ogbuoji, who noted that there was no basis for anyone to demand for Saraki’s resignation, stressed that even if Saraki was eventually arrested and arraigned before the court, it would not remove him from his seat as the President of the Senate, adding that such would only be seen as a judicial process.
Also speaking, Senator Joshua Dariye (PDP, Plateau Central) who warned that the unfolding scenario was not a good development, however, suggested that the best way to handle the matter was for the warring factions to go for dialogue and resolve their differences, since the recent action against Saraki was still a fallout of the outcome of the formation of the leadership of the 8th Senate.
He said: “It is not a good development. Dialogue is the key to any success; so let them go into dialogue and settle their differences.”
Anti-Saraki senators meet
A source told Vanguard that members of the SUF, the group of Senators who are in support of the position of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the leadership of the Senate have continued their consultations in readiness for the fallout of the CCT trial of Saraki.
It was gathered that the SUF has decided to lie low and allow the ongoing trial get to a head, as they continue the consultations behind the scene. A source said that the senators cannot say for certainty what would happen during the week, but many of them were said to be banking on the government “handling the assignment for them.”
The SUF Senators: Abu Ibrahim, Kabiru Marafa, Ajayi Borofice, Olugbenga Ashafa, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Banabas Gemade, Ahmed Lawan and George Akume among others came up to support Senator Ahmed Lawan during the fight for the position of Senate Presidency, which Saraki won.
As members of SUF are consulting, Saraki’s supporters, mostly of the Like Minds Senators (LMS) were also moving to consolidate the Senate President’s hold on the red chamber.
According to a source, one of the forces against Saraki was pushing for an “Obasanjo option,” which would be to pull through the planned arrest and detention of the Senate President irrespective of the CCT order on the issue.
Those behind this agenda are claiming that the CCT is not lower than the High Court and that its orders can only be referred to the Court of Appeal.
It was also gathered that the position of this camp is that the CCT could be made to get Saraki “out of the way” while the issue of control of the Senate would be sorted out on resumption.
Others are, however, expressing caution that the “Obasanjo option” could look drastic and reduce the government’s democratic credentials, especially as the government is still trying to get off the fallout of the invasion of Akwa-Ibom Government House.
The source said: “The noise by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is also unsettling the plans. If the nation had remained quiet as it was before now, the authorities can go all out after the Senate President under the guise of fighting corruption,” a source close to the party said, adding that the two divides in the APC camp are weighing the best option going forward.
It was also gathered that loyalists of the Senate President have decided to hold a Unity meeting of all Senators on September 28, a day before the 29th resumption date.
CCB member faults trial
Meanwhile, there was a new dimension to the case against Saraki, yesterday, as a member of the CCB said that the entire trial was needless and in contradiction with the process stipulated in the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
The member of the Bureau noted that the Section of the Act was not complied with before the Senate President was charged before the tribunal, adding, “If it had been complied with, the man will probably not even need to get to court at all, even if he committed all we are charging him with. Once he admits the inconsistency and regularise them”.
According to the member who spoke on condition of anonymity said if the Bureau had followed the provision of Section 3(d) of its own law, it will not rush to trial, but invite Saraki to come and defend whatever inconsistency or infraction that may have been discovered in his asset declarations, adding that the normal procedure according to Section 3(d) of the Act was that the Bureau should set up a committee to determine whether an infraction has been committed by any public officer after submitting his/her asset declaration forms.
Section 3(d) of the CCB Act states that: “The functions of the Bureau shall be ….to receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of this Act and where the Bureau considers it necessary to do so, refer such complaints to the Code of Conduct Tribunal established by Section 20 of this Act in accordance with Section 20 to 25 of this Act.
“Provided that where the person concerned makes a written admission of such breach or non-compliance, no reference to the Tribunal shall be necessary.”
The source recalled that it is this same refusal to follow procedure stipulated in his own law that led to the collapse of the case filed by the Bureau against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in 2011, adding that members who observed this anomaly were dissatisfied with the unilateral action of the CCB chairman, Mr. Sam Saba who did not consult with other members before referring the matter to the tribunal.
Meanwhile, Senators have kept mum since the matter came up, even as the Chairman, Ad- hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West has failed to issue an official statement from the Senate, even as Senators called to speak vehemently refused to make comments.
There are also strong indications that Senate President Bukola Saraki may not honour the order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase should arrest and produce him in Court today.
Though, Senate President Saraki was said not to be in town, but when Vanguard contacted his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, he said the Senate President was in town.