The prospects of a prolonged crisis in the Senate was, yesterday, in the offing following the decision by loyalists of Senate President Bukola Saraki to sink or swim with him in his continued trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
The affirmation of the Saraki loyalists is in the wake of agitations by some senators to give the Senate President a soft landing through a possible resignation from office in the interest of the legislative body.
Senator Saraki is currently facing trial at the CCT following a 13-count charge levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, bordering on alleged corruption and false declaration of assets. The contrasting views were inevitably widening the chasm that preceded the Senate leadership election that saw the All Progressives Congress, APC senators divide between Senators Saraki and Ahmad Lawan. Meanwhile, allies of the Senate President in their response to the increasing pressure on him to step down, yesterday, vowed to resist the pressures saying that Saraki would not resign from office.
The pro-Saraki senators met at the Asokoro residence of Senator Magartarkada Wammako, APC, Sokoto Central and Chairman, Senate Committee on Education.
At the end of the meeting, some of the senators believed the Senate President must continue in office, stressing that for whatever it was worth, they would continue to stand firmly behind Saraki and ensure that his Senate Presidency seat was protected. Addressing journalists on behalf of the senators, Senator Ibrahim Rafiu, APC, Kwara South and Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, reiterated their earlier stance that Saraki’s trial was a ‘mere persecution’ and an attempt to tarnish his image in ways not experienced before. He said: “We have since discovered that the trial of the Senate President is a mere attempt to blackmail him and make him look bad in the court of public opinion. No more, no less. A dispassionate analysis of the proceedings at the CCT, yesterday, has pointed to the fact that the APC-led executive is still embittered against Dr. Saraki over the manner of his election as Senate President.
“This is why we are standing for the Senate President and we will so do till the very end. We are doing this not for him but for the institution of the Senate that he eminently represents. We will never allow any arm of government to rubbish the cherished autonomy of the Senate.” Commenting on the calls in some quarters that the Senate President should resign from his position, the senators insisted that the calls were borne out of ignorance and pure hatred, describing such calls as ‘wicked and unfounded.’ “For those calling for the impeachment of the Senate President, we urge them to avail themselves of the provisions of the law relating to such a sensitive step. “As far as we are concerned, there is nothing like that on the table, and if anybody is trying to import that from outside of the Senate, God help them. “All I know is that they will have to produce as many as a 100 senators to achieve that aim. As long as they don’t have the majority, the call is a tall dream that will remain a figment of the imagination of the groups and their sponsors,” the senators said. Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that both the Senate Unity Forum, SUF and the Likemind Senators of the APC, may be returning to their battle moods ahead of another potential face off. The SUF was a political pressure group formed to support Senator Ahmed Lawan, APC, Yobe North for the position of Senate President, while Likemind Senators was a pro-Saraki’s group. According to a source, the senators are divided as to whether Senate President should step down or not. While some of the senators are pushing for his resignation to save the image of the Senate which they see as already being rubbished before the public and the international community, others are of the view that he should remain till the end of the case.