Divergent Views Trail Saraki’s Trial | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Divergent Views Trail Saraki’s Trial

Posted: Sep 25, 2015 at 12:23 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Adah


This is not the best of times for the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who is standing trial on 13 count charges of false declaration of assets by Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

It would be recalled that the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase was ordered to arrest Saraki last week after his refusal to appear before the tribunal to defend himself on alleged false declaration of assets.  The former Kwara state governor Saraki later appeared before the tribunal on Tuesday and after pleading not guilty to all the charges was granted bail on self recognition. The tribunal later adjourned hearing on the case till October 21, 2015.

Saraki’s had made attempt to stop the trial by Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). The Senate President had asked the Federal High Court to stop the CCB and the CCT from prosecuting him while demanding from the Appeal Court an order to stay the execution of the order of arrest made by the Justice Danladi Umar of the CCT as well as the proceedings of the tribunal.

The Leader of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Engr. Campbell Umehnzekwe has advised the Senate President to resign his position in the interest of the country. He urged Saraki to borrow a leaf from Guatemala’s experience “Last week; the Guatemala’s President Otto Perez Molina and his vice resigned their position on mere allegation of fraud. In the letter presented to congress Molina said he was resigning in the interest of the country. Saraki should resign in the interest of the country. This is new era, PDP’s spokesperson,  Olisa Metuh is unwittingly denigrating  the party by his offensive attack against the anti-corruption policy of President Muhammadu Buhari. Those who call the anti-graft war of President Buhari against Saraki and his co-travelers as a witch hunt are naïve and inept of political reality and true function of government” He said”.

Umehnzekwe disagreed with the view of former President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Olisa Agbakoba on the trial of Saraki that without the appointment of Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) CCT has no power to prosecute anybody. The APGA Chieftain described such comment coming from a senior lawyer as very discouraging. In fact it seems that you are blowing hot and cold supporting suspected criminal to hide under procured court order inside the the judges chamber under 12 hours to stall a clear established criminal trial.  Judging by the effect of corruption on the country Umehnzekwe believes any approach that would cleanse the system must be pragmatic and goal oriented. He urged those criticizing the president to join force with the new government in redeeming the lost glory.  For the country to be cleansed of endemic corruption every suspect irrespective of class must face trial.”

  However, Ilorin Emirates Descendants Progressives Union described the ongoing trial of the former governor of the state as political witch hunt that would not achieve any goal. According to the President of the group, Alhaji Abdulhamid Adi expressed surprise over the trial for the crime that was alleged to have been committed in 2003. He said waiting for over 12 years to unearth the case and the manner in which the CCB is handling the matter appears suspicious to people. He urged the CCB  to steer clear of partisanship and not allow itself to be used because it would not achieve any meaningful purpose. Similarly the leadership of APC in Kwara State has accused the leadership of the party as responsible for the ordeal of Senate President. A chieftain of the party in Kwara State, Alhaji Salau Olorin has said that the political persecution of Saraki would an attempt in futility. 

Another chieftain of the party based in Abuja, Timi Frank has dismissed the suggestion by some people that the senate president should resign his position. He said those giving Senate President ultimatum to quit office are ignorant and should be ignored 

   Among his colleagues especially the Like Minds senators, the support for Kwara born politician remain unwavering. Like Ilorin Emirate Decedents Union and other groups, what the senate president is passing through is as attempt to remove him as the senate president.   According to Senator Ibrahim Danbaba, senators would continue to support their president. “We reiterate the fact that he is our choice for the post of Senate President and no politically motivated, mischievous and vindictive trial will change our opinion of him.”  He commended the senate president for appearing at the CCT to defend himself on the allegations. .   “After majority of us, Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, witnessed the appearance of our President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal this morning, we are happy that he appeared at the Tribunal after availing himself of the opportunity to defend his Fundamental Human Rights. We also want to state here, on behalf of our colleagues, that the Senate remains solidly behind Senator Saraki and we express our unalloyed support for his leadership.”

  However, senators expressed their support for the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari  in transforming the country. “The Eighth Senate restates its commitment to the programmes and policies of the Buhari administration. It is our belief that at the end of this trial, our democracy, Nigerians and the people will end up as the beneficiaries.”

Saraki believes his present ordeal is associated to his position as senate president. In the statement signed by Saraki himself shortly after the adjournment of the case, the senate stated that nobody would have been interested about the assets declaration he filled about 12 years ago if he was to remain ordinary man.   When Saraki emerged as senate president on June 9 contrary to the choice of his party APC, many analysts expressed doubt of his ability to enjoy the support of his party leaders who regard him as over ambitious in working against its interest.

  Though Saraki still enjoys the support of majority senators in the 8thNational Assembly, he is fighting the greatest political battle since he began his political career.  Observers believe that his ability to survive the present ordeal would give him more popularity especially among senators and admirers.  There is no doubt that Saraki who left PDP to APC during the preparation for the 2015 general elections may have to fight hard to redeem his political image and retain his position. Though the presidency and the party has claimed they have no hand and would not intervene in the trial, they have a role to play in the ongoing saga.