Saraki Eager To Prove His Innocence At Tribunal – Olaniyonu | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Saraki Eager To Prove His Innocence At Tribunal – Olaniyonu

Posted: Feb 23, 2016 at 10:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Alh. Yusuph Olaniyonu  Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki speaks with Temidayo Akinsuyi, on the call for the Senate President to resign over the ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) .

Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has called on your principal, Dr. Bukola  Saraki  to resign his position as Senate  President in order to preserve the integrity of the National Assembly. What is your take on that?
Mr. Femi Falana is a senior lawyer and a SAN for that matter. I am sure he is very familiar with the fundamental philosophy of our legal system in which an accused person is deemed innocent until he is proven guilty by a competent court with relevant jurisdiction.
The Code of Conduct tribunal has not even started looking into the substantive matter involved in the charges preferred against the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki. So, on what basis is Mr. Falana making his call? Or is it that Mr. Falana, who is a well known human rights activist, believes that when the matter concerns a man of the status of the Senate President, due process, justice and the fundamental philosophy of the legal system should not apply? That will smack of inconsistency and discrimination. So, to re-echo the words of the Senate Committee Chairman on Information, Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi who recently issued a statement on the matter on behalf of his colleagues, the call by Mr. Falana is “premature, unnecessary and unwarranted”. We should all wait until this matter runs its full course and end in the final platform of our judicial architecture.

There were reports that there is serious pressure by his political associates who are alleged to be uncomfortable with the ongoing tria on Saraki to resign. Are you aware of such moves?
My answer to your question is that the statement issued by the Senate after their Sunday night meeting has taken care of this question. Saraki’s associates and all impartial, objective and rational observers of the developments around this case against him know that it is simply a case of political vendetta. It is persecution not prosecution. Some people are seeking to achieve through the Tribunal what they failed, and will continue to fail, to achieve on the floor of the Senate. To answer your question specifically, Saraki’s associates want him to continue to do the good job he is doing in providing good, robust, creative and intelligent leadership for the Senate in particular and the National Assembly as a whole.

The Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, recently led some of his colleagues to a meeting with Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Some have insinuated that they were sent by the Senate President in order to find a political situation to the crisis. How true is that?
Honestly, I do not like answering questions, which are based on speculations. The Senate leader after the meeting with the Vice President told journalists they came to discuss issues bordering on the present assignment being undertaken by the National Assembly in conjunction with the executive arm. It should be clear to you that the visit is about the 2016 budget. Remember at the time of the visit, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was the acting President.

Now that the trial at the CCT will continue, do you believe Dr. Saraki will be vindicated at the end of the day?
There is no doubt that the Senate President will prove his innocence. Anything built on lies; malice and manipulation will not stand. Dr. Saraki is in fact eager to do just that, anytime the trial commences.

Can we say that the rancor that arose as a result of Saraki becoming the senate president has been resolved?
If you read the statement by the Senate after the Sunday night meeting, you will see that Senators emphasised the fact that Saraki has provided stability for that legislative institution. An overwhelming majority of his colleagues have on three different occasions passed votes of confidence on him. The Senate has continued to move on progressively to play its law making, advocacy and oversight roles in the nation. And the Office of the Senate Presidency under Saraki has been very creative, pro-active and forward-looking more than ever. That does not mean there are no very few Senators who still hold a different view from that of the majority. However, that is democracy at work. In a Senate where members represent the diversity of our country, everybody cannot be thinking the same way or hold same view on one issue.

There were indications that following the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement, senators opposed to the Senate President under the aegis of the Senate Unity Forum, had regrouped to force Saraki out of the seat, how true is that?
Like I said earlier, an overwhelming majority of the Senators have spoken to express unflinching support for Dr. Saraki. And that is what matters. In a democracy the majority will always have their way while the minority will have their say. A very large, comfortable majority is in support of the Senate President.

What is the relationship of the Senate president with Senator Lawan and other senators who disagreed with his emergence now?
Dr. Saraki is the President of the Senate with responsibility to serve all the other 108 Senators. As a leader who knows that he is just in fact the primus inter pares in the Assembly, he relates well with all Senators, including Senator Ahmed Lawan who is chairman, Senate Committee on Defence.

Given the support he has enjoyed from majority of the lawmakers, who usually show solidarity with him whenever he appears in court especially from senators under the umbrella of the opposition PDP, can you say Saraki’s emergence was ordained by God?
I am a Muslim and by orientation, antecedent and belief, I know that the Quran says Allahu Molika li  Muliku etc which means only God enthrones kings and only Him can remove Kings. As a Yoruba, I also know the saying that no leaf can wither from the tree that bears it except with the knowledge and permission of Almighty God. If God does not want Saraki to become Senate President, he won’t be occupying the position today. I believe he will continue to be there until Allah decrees otherwise. So, if human beings can live with that unassailable reality, they will do less scheming, manipulation and mischief to supplant people in authority.

There were reports that there is a no love lost relationship between Saraki and the Kwara state governor since the praying ground issue last year. How true is that?
There is no iota of truth in that statement. Maybe that is the wish of some people who cannot understand why the duo continue to remain close after similar relationships across the country had collapsed shortly after the emergence of the successor-governor. That wish will never be realized in this case.

There were also reports that Dr. Saraki is being wooed by some disgruntled elements in APC who are uncomfortable with the way the party is being managed to join them in forming a new party. How true is that?
Dr. Saraki has stated it several times that he is a member of the APC. He was elected as Senator on the platform of that party and as Senate President; he is a member of all the principal organs of the party. There is no basis for him to be doing forum shopping. He is focused on his job as Senate President and will appreciate that people allow him to focus his energy, vision and thinking on how to make the Senate continue to serve the interest of the people of Nigeria.

What will you consider as the legislative areas of interest of the Senate President?
If you have been following his speeches, the forum he attends, the guests that he receives and his remarks at Senate plenary sittings, the issues where his views have been very effective and make impacts and areas where he is more articulate and pungent, you will see that he is interested in promoting issues bordering on economy, putting more people to productive work across the country thereby putting money into the pocket of ordinary Nigerians and alleviating poverty. That is why you see him championing the cause of Made in Nigeria Goods. He has said the Procurement Act will be amended immediately after the passage of the 2016 budget to help local manufacturers. That is why he has focused his energy in amending laws that will make resolution of business disputes very easy in Nigeria. He is always talking of reviewing all laws that has to do with investment promotion, helping small and medium scale entrepreneurs. He has been working with some experts on resolving the obstacles on the way of the passage of the Petroleum Industries Bill (PIB) into law. His interest in the PIB is because of the potentials it has for generating employment, creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs to benefit from the oil industry and the possibility of generating more revenue for Nigeria that can be channeled into stimulating local economy, providing infrastructure and other social services for the benefit of the people.