Should Saraki  Resign As  Senate President? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Should Saraki  Resign As  Senate President?

Posted: Apr 17, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon. Leo Okuweh Ogor, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives has defended the resolve of Saraki, the embattled Chairman of the 8th National Assembly, not to resign his position as Senate President.

Ogor said that it is within Saraki’s rights to decide whether he wants to resign or not. Ogoh’s stand followed several calls by Civil Society groups demanding Saraki’s resignation pending the outcome of his criminal trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Ogor stated this in reaction to an inquiry by Independent on his thoughts about the mounting pressure on Saraki to step down from his position as a way of preserving the sanctity of the hallowed chamber.
The lawmaker, despite leading opposition parties in the House, encouraged Saraki to stay on and focus on his job, adding that those calling for Saraki’s head should exercise patience and let the CCT do its work since the case has gone on trial.
“For me, the thing is that there is no law that has pronounced him guilty. And Section 36 of the Constitution guarantees fair hearing. And no man or woman can be deemed culpable until a court of competent jurisdiction has decided so. So, why would they ask him to resign?
“I think those people should be patient. They are just like putting the cart before the horse, probably they have some interest. But for me, I think he should remain on his seat, continue his work and avoid being distracted. It’s being a very trying period for him, but I think he should ignore some of these calls and continue with his work.
“I don’t know why people keep overheating the polity unnecessarily. There’s is a trial going on and the man has not said he won’t face trial, neither has he been found guilty. So, the ball is in the court of the Judicial arm of government and in this case, the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
“They are on it and we are waiting to see what they will do, either to convict or discharge. So, the man is facing his trial and we should wait and see what the outcome will be.
“So,  I am not going to sit here and say he should step down. Stepping down, for me, is a matter of morals. It is up to him to say he will resign or not. If a man says, ‘Oh, I’m being persecuted for political reasons’, he has the moral justification to say, ‘Look, I’m not stepping down’.
“If he realises that he is not being persecuted, but that he is actually guilty of the allegations, he also has the moral obligation to say, ‘Look, I’m stepping down pending the outcome of my trial’. So, for me, it is purely a moral issue, and I think he has to deal with that himself. So that’s where I stand as regarding that”, the lawmaker submitted.

He Has No Reason To Resign, Says Etete,  PDP Chief

Pastor Monwan Etete , the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Deputy State Chairman in Rivers State, has said that there is no moral reason why Saraki should resign his position as Senate President because of the CCT trial and the Panama expose.
Etete when asked to comment on the issue, retorted: “On what basis do they want Saraki to resign? Is Saraki in charge of the present economy in the country? Is Saraki the reason why we don’t have fuel in the filling stations? Is Saraki responsible for the padding of the 2016 budget? I don’t know why people should make noise about this whole thing.
“As far as I am concerned, some persons in their party, APC, are not comfortable with the way Saraki emerged as the president of the eighth senate. He outsmarted them and they want to take their pound of flesh.”
Etete, Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Political Matters said that the trial of Saraki could be linked to anything. He said: “It could be political, it could be something else. But, all I know is that this is persecution and he must be allowed to focus on the leadership of the senate”.
He maintained that if anybody should heed the call for resignation because of wrong doing, such person is Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum. Etete asked: “Nigerians have since called on Kachikwu to resign as minister, has he resigned? Why are we buying fuel at N300 per litre? Is that not enough reason for him to resign?

“I think that they should give Saraki a chance to concentrate on the leadership of the senate because this distraction has hindered legislative process seriousl.”
Hon.  Deeyah Bariene, a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly described Saraki’s trial at the CCT as political persecution. He argued that the senate President finished as governor of Kwara State since 2007, and wondered, “Why should they go after him now that he is the senate president?”
He maintained: “There are former governors who are now in the Senate. Why hasn’t the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) go after them and charge them at the CCT? I think that the call for him to resign has no moral justification.
“Saraki was duly elected by his colleagues in the senate. They are the ones who should force him to resign, if they so desired.”

Osun Speaker, Others Express Mixed Feelings

There are mixed feelings over the call for resignation of Bukola Saraki, the Senate President over allegations of corruption hanging on his neck. While some people believe that he should throw in towel honourably, some argue that since he has not been convicted and the allegations are yet to be determined by the court, he is still presumed to be innocent.

Rt. Hon. Nojeem Salaam , the Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly; Hon. Sunday Akere, former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Osun State;  Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy to All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, as well as Prince Diran Odeyemi, the Director of Publicity to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lend their opinions on whether or not Saraki should resign or not.
Salaam said he would not be categorical on whether Saraki should resign from office based on the sterling revelations against him. He premised his argument on moral, legal and political grounds.
The Speaker, who maintained that the choice of whether to resign or not is that of Saraki to make. He added that morally, the exalted seat of the Senate Presidency demands a person who is above board, like Caesar’s wife.
He added that if the Federal Government headed by a President of the same ruling party with the Senate President should assemble legal team and ready to pursue the corruption case, a perception has been configured already, and in a saner clime, the occupier of the Senate Presidency may step aside in order to prove his integrity.
He said further, that legally, the Senate President has not violated any known law, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the competent court of jurisdiction, reiterating that morality has no force of law, and that law could be amoral in some occasions despite the fact that laws were moral codes.
The Osun Speaker further explained that from the political meaning which Saraki’s camp is reading into his CCT trial could be an area of exploit, but the colouration of corruption the charges were laced with suggests that political settlement may be difficult, but not unlikely.
Salaam therefore called on all parties in the trial to allow the course of justice to prevail, while the integrity of the Senate should be left intact.

Akere, on the other hand has a different opinion. In his reaction, he said that in a sane society, the question of Senator Saraki resigning or not will not arise before the Senate President does what is right, which is to honourably vacate his position until he clears his name of the mess surrounding him now.
He maintained that the mere fact that the Number Three Citizen sits in the dock to answer allegations of corruption at the Code CCT demands that he should do what is honourable.
Akere added that the Panama Paper revelations in which the name of the Senate President was also mentioned worsen the case. “I think black people don’t have shame and that is why we are where we are now.
But for Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, warned that the matter could be dragged for a long time because of the nature of Nigerian politics, stressing that  some sections of the country would be reading different meanings into it.

According to him, “in an ordinary situation regarding Nigerian politics, nobody will seriously expect him to resign, but he stressed that because the nation is in an era of ‘Change’ and Saraki is part of that ‘Change’, the only sensible thing is for him to step aside and let justice take its full course.
Oyatomi added: “?If he is cleared of the alleged corruption charges, he will be vindicated, and he will be gloriously triumphant. But, if the law finds him guilty while he is still in office, the disgrace will be ignominious. So, if I were to advise him, it is in his best interest and the interest of the sacred chamber of the Senate of which he is the President, that he resigns NOW from that post.
“This is part of the Change mantra that Nigerians voted for. The case is not looking too good to risk everything. Even, honour is at stake and the best thing to do is to protect the honour of the hallowed chamber and save us this embarrassing mess.”
Prince Diran Odeyemi, however, frowned at the call for  Saraki’s resignation, saying the Senate President is just being made a scapegoat by some cliques at the nation’s corridor of power, saying that if the government truly want to clean up all the mess, some powerful elements in the government should also be brought to book.

Dr. Tunde Moses Elebute,  a public policy analyst and cleric said he is one of those who believe that Dr. Busola Saraki, the Senate President, should honourably resign from his position over his on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and the recent expose by the Panama news syndicate, popularly termed Panamagate.

Speaking exclusively with Independent, Dr Elebute, who is the Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Lagos Mainland Province, noted that  Saraki had contributed immensely to the political development of the nation in his state and the federal level. Thus, he maintained that he knows the proper actions to take when it became necessary.

Elebute said that since the President Muhammadu Buhari administration said it is fighting corruption, the Panamagate should be thoroughly investigated and proper actions taken on the issue.
He said: “If President Buhari fails to take action on this, people will say he is not serious. Government should investigate the allegations properly and be thorough about it so that people will not see it as persecution.”

Emeka Okafor, a lawyer and chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, also spoke in the same vein with Dr. Elebute. He called on Saraki to resign if he still has an atom of integrity in him.
Okafor, a Media Director of APC gubernatorial campaign in Enugu State, said Saraki would create space for himself in the history of the country if he resigned. Okafor said: “In view of the stringency of the allegations against the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and his palpable inability to prove his innocence, he should resign if he has integrity.”
On the position of Saraki’s supporters that he should not resign since no court had convicted him, Okafor replied: “He (Saraki) knows that the charges against him are not rainbow charges. Why does he expect the courts to go that length? He should resign. That will create a space for him in history. If he cherishes integrity and feels that the charges impinge on it, he should resign.”

NBA Chief, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Leader Speak

Barrister Aniekan Mendie, former Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Bauchi State, has kicked against the call on Saraki to resign over allegations of  false declaration of assets and the mention of his name in the Panama expose.
Mendie, who spoke to Independent in Bauchi, said that Saraki’s resignation can only become necessary if he is found guilty by a competent tribunal or court.
He said: “Saraki is supposed to remain in office as the Senate President because by Section 36 Sub-Section 5 the Nigeria Constitution made, he is presumed innocent because he has not been pronounced guilty by any court.
“Whatever is happening now is mere allegation and it requires proof before he can be pronounced guilty. So, there is no question of Saraki resigning now, as he has to wait until he is pronounced guilty by a competent tribunal or court.”
The NBA chief argued that it is only when any trace of guilt is establish against Saraki that it will become necessary for him to resign, or be removed from office.
On the new revelation that Saraki hid some assets abroad, as also exposed by the Panama media recently, Mandie said: “We should not judge because one or two persons testified against him. So, we still need to wait for the final pronouncement by the tribunal or court.”

Chief Demian Ogene, the National Treasurer of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in his contribution, maintained that an accused person is presumd innocent until proven guilty by a competent court. Thuis, he stressed, applies too to Saraki, the Senate President.
Ogene stated that  Saraki should remain in office and defend himself against the allegations of illegal declaration of assets while in office as governor of Kwara state.
Ogene,  who was reacting to the issue of whether Saraki should resign or not on account of the allegations levelled against him, however, maintained that in our part  of the world, “a man never admits to have fallen down until his dead touches the ground. So, in the case of Saraki, let us be patient. His head may go down with maximum shame.”