The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT is not relenting in prosecuting the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki. In fact, the tribunal is bent on going on with the trial despite legal hurdles being thrown on its way. Again, leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC have made it absolutely clear that they are ready to sacrifice Saraki in order to effect a positive change in the polity writes DOZIE EMMANUEL
Many who had thought that after he emerged as the President of the 8th Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki would have a smooth ride as the number three citizen of the country are having a rethink. This is because the Kwara born politician is facing probably the fiercest and most difficult time in his political career.
Even political associates, colleagues and other admirers of the Senate President are finding it difficult to come to terms on why the party is bent on sacrificing one of its own for selfish political reasons.
Saraki did not only go against the wish of the party to emerge as Senate President; he also superintended over an election that saw Senator Ike Ekweremadu, an opposition, emerged as his deputy.
After that, the party wrote a letter to Saraki on where the various principal positions had been zoned to, but that directive was discarded as some APC members loyal to Saraki and the PDP senators kicked against the letter on the ground that they are at liberty to choose where these positions should come from according to their Senate rules. They argued that the party is not in the position whatsoever to dictate to them how to conduct their affairs.
Since the then, leaders of the party have sworn not to relent in its onslaughts unless Saraki concedes the seat of the Senate President to the preferred choice of the party – Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe state). But the senate president has repeatedly said he would not be intimidated into leaving his seat for another person. Ten months down the line, the Satakiand leaders of APC are still flexing power and muscle over who controls the Senate.
Perhaps, it did not come as a surprise to many political watchers as Saraki was conspicuously absent at the 8th colloquium of Bola Tinubu held at the International Conference Centre in March as part of activity to mark his 64th birthday where other notable personalities such as: President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun were in attendance.
As it stands now, the party does not give a hoot about Saraki’s successor as long as the Kwara born politician is disgraced and humiliated out of office. Already, the party has made it clear that it is willing to sacrifice and concede the Senate Presidency to its rival, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to effect a positive democratic change in the country. In a published interview, the National Chairman of the party, Chief Odigie-Oyegun revealed that the party could not care less about the outcome of the trial of the senate president over alleged false asset declaration.
According to Odigie-Oyegun, “Well, I don’t think we will lose that position. But sometimes, for change to take place there is price you have to pay. So losing the position may be sacrifice for change. The party is willing to sacrifice the position to its rival.
“Things must be done normally. That is part of the change mantra that we must play by the rule so that we don’t truncate processes. People don’t seem to internalise what change is.
“If the President says, court, free that man, the same president can say court, imprison that man. Is that the Nigeria you want? No! Change means allowing the law to take the proper course. I can tell you the ptesident won’t interfere. The president is straight definite, straight and firm in all facets. President Muhammadu Buhari will not interfere in the court proceedings against Saraki”.
From all indication, it appears that there is no respite for Saraki as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has affirmed its position that there was no strong evidence of corruption that could provide basis for the prosecution of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar. The anti-graft body said the allegations against Mr. Umar were “suspicious” and “insufficient.” Umar was accused of allegedly receiving N10 million bribe from one Abdulrashid Owolab. Mr. Umar has come under intense scrutiny since the commencement of trial of Saraki over alleged false assets declaration, with many accusing and calling on him to step aside from prosecuting the case having being tainted with corruption.
Having seen the hand writing on the wall and in order not to be the party’s sacrificial lamb, the senate president has sort the services of about 80 renowned lawyers headed by Justice Kanu Agabi to successfully defend him at the CCT bearing in mind that he had suffered setbacks at the Supreme and High courts respectively. Similarly, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal recently struck out a motion the senate president filed for an order staying further proceeding on his trial before the CCT. A three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, discarded the motion after it was withdrawn by Saraki’s lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi.
No doubt, his lawyers are much aware that they face a herculean task of mounting a strong defence at this crucial moment.
Nevertheless, Saraki’s support base is gradually gaining momentum within and outside the Red chamber because many had come to the conclusion that his trial is nothing but a mere political witch hunt. Basically, this is why his fellow senators last week resolved to stand by him in his ongoing trial at the tribunal until proven guilty. After two hours in closed-door session, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the senators would stand by their leader until his case was dispensed with in accordance with the constitution and democratic practices.
In addition, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Isa Misau has revealed that those behind the travails of Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the tribunal are some hardliners in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. He said what was needed to resolve the Saraki matter was political solution, stressing that some hardliners in the administration are stalling the solution.
Now, who are these hardliners behind Saraki’s travail? Will Saraki wriggle out from this well-crafted legal web unscathed? Will he eventually end up as the party’s sacrificial lamb? Or will his power, wealth and influence save him at this trying time? Nigerians are watching and waiting anxiously.