Presidency, NASS talks fail to stop Saraki’s trial

There were indications last night that the high-profile parley between the Presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday night failed to persuade President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Mr Femi Adesina, reiterated that the President would not interfere with the job of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“You know this president. You know that he plays straight. Anything that will amount to underhand deals, he will never be part of it.

“Buhari has said that he will not interfere with the Code of Conduct Tribunal trial and he stands by it,” he said.

However, the Vanguard reported that it had spoken to competent sources who said that the NASS leadership led by Saraki himself, left the Presidential Villa disappointed, following what they see as Buhari’s refusal to shift grounds and wade into the trial of the Senate President, which is interpreted by his loyalists in both the APC and PDP, as ‘political’.

Vanguard learnt that Buhari carefully avoided the issue of Saraki’s ongoing trial by the CCT and concentrated on issues which he believes would move Nigeria forward and asked the lawmakers to key into such matters.

“At the end of the discussion, we discovered that the man had not changed his mind on Saraki and we felt a bit upset by the action,” a lawmaker said last night.

One of the sources said that despite what appeared as a softening of stances by Buhari to call a meeting with Saraki, he did not even raise the issue of the CCT throughout the meeting, which lasted about two hours.

Apparently angered and disappointed by the attitude of the President, the Senators might have decided to vent their anger on the nominees sent in by Buhari for confirmation by the lawmakers so as to form his cabinet and get the government running.

Rising from the meeting with the President, the Senate rolled out a new set of stringent rules that might make it more difficult for most of the nominees to scale through the screening.

While the Senate leadership stepped up requirements for the nominees to be screened by them, the PDP Caucus said they would not approve of the Presidential list unless the full complement of nominees from the 36 states of the federation was made available by Buhari.

The Punch reported that it had carried out its own checks on what transpired in the meeting and It was gathered that at the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and Dogara on Monday in Abuja, the Presidency insisted that Saraki must sever his relationship with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

removing Ekweremadu was reportedly viewed by The Presidency as one of the possible political solutions to the heat generated by the trial of Saraki by Code of Conduct Tribunal for a an alleged false declaration of assets.

However, Saraki is said not to be disposed to the idea, arguing that he would not betray his deputy.

“The view of the Presidency is that the arrangement in the Senate whereby a PDP senator is the deputy president in an All Progressives Congress Party-led government is a misnomer, which should not be allowed.

“If there is a political option, this is one; the arrangement is not right,” a senior National Assembly official informed The PUNCH.

Another official explained further, “Both the PDP and the APC and other political parties participated in the election of the principal officers of the National Assembly.

“There are forces in place and there is no way this suggestion will fly. Removing Ekweremadu can only be by impeachment proceedings. It is not by a directive.

The House, had in a resolution passed on Wednesday last week, asked Dogara to intervene in Saraki’s case by meeting with Buhari and the Senate President with a view to finding a political solution to the matter.

The House had argued that a political solution could save the country the heat generated in the polity by Saraki’s trial at the CCT.

It also claimed that a matter affecting the National Assembly could indirectly be a threat to democracy

But the Presidency last night denied suggestions that the parley between the National Assembly leadership and President Buhari was aimed at getting presidential intervention on the on-going trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

It insisted that the parley was purely a familiarization tour by the assembly men.

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