THE governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are locked in a battle of wits over the fate of embattled Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Daily Sun reported that Saraki’s loyalists in both camps met at the weekend to strategize on how to protect him and the Senate from the onslaught of a “cabal” in the party.
Senators from across the political divide on Sunday night resolved to defend the Senate under the leadership of Saraki from incursion from what they call “a cabal” in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
To demonstrate their resolve to “ride the tide, rise and fall with Saraki,” no fewer than 50 Senators met in a location in Jahi District in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja in a marathon meeting which started on Saturday and ended on Sunday evening.
The meeting, which allegedly involved conference calls from other Senators out of the country in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America vowed “to protect the institution of the Senate from a gang of cabals.”
According to the report, the meeting, which was presided over by a member of the Senate leadership, saw angry Senators point accusing fingers in the direction of “some cabals in the APC with no regard for due process.
“We met on Saturday and at the meeting, we discovered that the legal war against Saraki was not done with respect for the rule of law. There was no due process in the charges leveled against him at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
“We decided that everything must be done to deal decisively with the cabal. I had cause to explain to them that President Buhari had no hand in the war against the Senate President.
“They wanted to embarrass the Senate but we will let them know that we will sink or swim with Saraki…He will be our president, even in jail. There will be no leadership change; if that is what they are expecting…”
The meeting ended yesterday night with moves to pass a confidence vote on Saraki when the Senate resumes in plenary, it was gathered.
Regardless, it also emerged yesterday some Senators met last Wednesday, immediately the perjury charges levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) became public.
“Initially, some of the PDP Senators said they should respond by convening an emergency session where a motion would be sponsored by a member from the opposition to alert Nigerians to the fact that the charges against Saraki was a witch hunt. But, wise counsel prevailed because some thought the move could boomerang on the Senate.”
Besides, some ranking Senators may have decided not to wade into the matter officially because “some of us have anti-corruption cases in court. This is not the best time to be seen shouting about Saraki’s travails.” Another set of Senators reiterated that they are “businessmen and any noise now may jeopardise such business interests. “You don’t fight government and win,” another member from the South said.
In a related development, some Senators are expected to prevail on Saraki to discard “the winner-takes-all attitude” and implement the composition of Senate leadership letter sent to him by the party.
“We know the mood of the party; they want some Senators in the leadership…It’s time to allow party supremacy in some areas,” a Senator disclosed.
A meeting to that effect, it was learnt, held at a house in the Jahi District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) last week. A source said Senators mulled another confidence vote “to show that Senators are with Saraki…We will not allow anyone or cabal think they can rubbish the Senate as an institution and get away with it.”
In a related development, Saraki, it was gathered, is reportedly looking to the Judiciary as the last resort to evade arrest and prosecution today.
Last Friday, soon after the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, issued a bench warrant for his arrest, a flustered Senate President immediately left his office in the new Senate wing of the National Assembly.
A ranking Senator, however, disclosed on Sunday evening that “Saraki may not even show up in the CCT today. I got to know that the appeal against his arrest may have been served on the CCT chairman same day (on Friday); even though Daudu promised to personally show up with him at the tribunal today…” More revelations, however, indicate that Saraki’s legal counsels, M. A. Mahmud and Joseph Daudu, former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) were prepared for “any eventuality” during the hearing at the CCT last Friday. A source privy to the arrangement disclosed that,”on Friday, when they were in court, both counsels to the Senate President, “having read the body language of the CCT chairman, immediately went into action. They approached the Appeal Court and got an appeal against his arrest ready… in fact, between 2:30pm and 3:00pm on Friday, the appeal was ready, filed immediately and the Chief Registrar signed and took it to the Court of Appeal where it was stamped and possession was taken of the Certified True Copy (CTC). “That was why it was difficult to carry out the bench warrant issued on him by the CCT chairman.”
On Wednesday, September 16, the Federal Government, through the CCB, filed a 13-count charge against Saraki, accusing him of false declaration of assets including failure to declare some properties in the highbrow Maitama district of Abuja and Ikoyi, Lagos.
Meanwhile, the llorin Emirate Descendant Progressive Union (IEDPU) has described the ongoing travails of the senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki at the CCT as purely politically motivated.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen in Ilorin on the recent visit of the body to Senator Saraki at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, the natinoal president of the IEDPU, Alhaji Abdulhamid Adi wondered why the CCB failed to raise any issue concerning the Senate President’s asset declaration forms since 2003.
According to him, the 12 year interval to unearth the alleged issue by the Code of Conduct Bureau and the way the Code of Conduct Tribunal is handling the issue is suspicious.