As time ticks
APC shops for replacement
PDP moves to takeover, says Senator
Appeal case dismissed as abuse of court process
Indications emerged during the weekend that the embattled Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki may be forced to resign his position as the number three citizen following mind boggling revelations at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT against him.
The embattled senate president, who failed again in his attempts to stop further action on his false asset declaration case as the Federal High Court in Abuja Friday slammed him for attempting to abuse court process, is facing perhaps the most daunting of his challenges.
In his judgment yesterday, Justice Abdulkadiri Kafarati, said that the fear expressed by Saraki that he would not get justice at the CCT was speculative, misplaced and had no place in law.
The judge, who based his decision on the preliminary objection of the Federal Government against Saraki’s suit, agreed that it was too early for Saraki to have brought the issue of fundamental rights to fair trial when the tribunal had not concluded its findings on the falsification of assets charges brought against him.
Kafarati also held that the applicant was wrong in raising the issue of fundamental rights to seek nullification of trial when in the real sense his case did not fall within Chapter 4 of 1999 Constitution.
According to the judge, the CCT is a competent tribunal, which derives its powers from the CCT Act, and it has the powers to try criminal matters.
The judgement further deepened Saraki’s troubled efforts to remain in control of his political life and thus brightens the prospects of his detractors to get him dethroned.
A highly placed source in the national secretariat of the party in the office of the Legal Adviser of the APC yesterday told Nigerian Pilot Saturday that the problem of the Senate President was compounded following the recent leaks that embattled Saraki has some funds stashed away in panama.
According to the source, the hierarchy of the party particularly president Buhari is piqued with the recent development at the code of conduct tribunal how the senate President used the state government funds to purchase properties allegedly through his personal companies.
According to him, already former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP now a two term Senator in APC Senator Barnabas Gemade may be favoured by the party as replacement for embattled Saraki.
He said that the party’s National Working committee and the APC caucus in the Senate would soon be meeting to take a stand on the emergence of Gemade.
The source further added that the APC leadership is trading with caution because if the issue is not handling tactically a PDP senator may emerged the senate President because of their numbers, unity and the formidable opposition they have formed in the Senate.
Already the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the senate during last week vowed it would swim and sink with him.
His trouble took a different dimension penultimate Tuesday when the Code of Conduct Tribunal was told how the senator used various bank loans from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc to purchase various properties in Lagos and Abuja money belonging to Kwara State government.
The tribunal was told that the money was disbursed to the former Kwara State Governor in various tranches and which were used to purchase landed property from the Presidential Implementation Committee on the sales of the Federal Government Property.
A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Michael Wetcass in continuation of his evidence in the trial of the Senate President said that the property were acquired by Saraki at Ikoyi, Lagos and Maitama, Abuja.
In his evidence in chief, the witness who led the EFCC operatives that investigated a petition against Senator Saraki disclosed that Saraki purchased the properties in the name of his company Carlisle.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness tendered various documents, which showed how the bank loans were disbursed to Saraki, and how Saraki in turn converted the loans into drafts paid to the Presidential Implementation Committee on the sales of the federal government landed property.
The witness however, alleged that the properties were not properly declared in the asset forms submitted by Saraki to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, as required by law even though he purchased the properties in the name of a registered company and a legal entity.
The prosecution tendered about 25 documents to aid them in the trial of the Senate President.
Meanwhile, further hearing on the matter was adjourned to April 18 to enable the defence team led by Mr. KanuAgabi (SAN) to study the voluminous documents tendered by the prosecution and admitted by the Tribunal Chairman, Mr. DanladiYakubu Umar.
In a related development, the Director General of the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Constituency Office, otherwise known as Mandate, Hon. Abdulwahab Isa, has explained that since the former Governor of Kwara State left office in May 2011, his pension, which was paid into a special account, has been managed by a group of trustees and used for education endowment for students across the state.
Isa in a statement yesterday stated that the Senate President does not even have access to the account.
He said a group of trustees led by him were mandated to use the money in paying scholarship grants and funds for Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, forms for students across the state.
“We have also used the money to pay for coaching of students who were preparing for JAMB examinations.
For example, the most recent beneficiaries from the funds were two University of Ilorin Faculty of Law students who were the best in their set and needed money for their enrolment into the Nigerian Law School”, he said.
Isa added that the funds from the pension account have been utilised in fulfilment of a pledge publicly made by Dr. Saraki to the people.
Also, to worsen the Senate President’s predicament, at least four assets allegedly belonging to Saraki family were starched in a secret offshore territories that was discovered.
The federal government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC are yet to make any official comment on the latest world scam.