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Friday, 25 March 2016

Saraki may say ‘Bye Bye’ to being Senate President sooner

By Amako Nneji 
Saraki may say ‘Bye Bye’ to being Senate President sooner

The ruling of the Justice Umar Dalandi-led Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, on Thursday, March 24, that it has the jurisdiction to hear the case against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for allegedly declaring false assets while he was Governor of Kwara State, seems to have knocked Saraki down to his knees.
This came barely 48 hours after Justice Abdukadir Abdu-Kafarati, of the Federal High Court in Abuja disqualified himself from a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Saraki to quash his trail at the CCT.
Related: CCT delivers judgment against Saraki
Kafarati, had fixed Tuesday, March 22, for delivery of judgment on the suit. However, he announced his withdrawal from the case on the basis that his integrity had been called to question in the matter.
“It is only in this country that people can wake up and start calling people names.
“In the circumstance, I disqualify myself from this case. I will hereby send the case file to the chief judge for re-assignment to another judge,” the judge had announced.
Political pundits averred that the Dalandi Umar-led Tribunal seemed to have nailed Saraki’s political coffin by the decision to go ahead with the trial.
“There are fears that the CCT chairman, Danladi Umar, has not left anyone in doubt that he is on a mission to convict Saraki by all means,” a source said.
The source added: “Therefore, to subject himself to be tried by this tribunal and by this chairman is to commit political suicide.
“The Senate President has gone to every judicial length to stop this trial by the CCT not because he is running away from justice, but because he knows there is no way he is going to get justice off the case, if it goes to trial”.
Saraki was arraigned by the Federal Government on a 13-count criminal charge that bordered on corruption, false declaration of assets, and illegal operation of a foreign bank account while in office as a public servant on 22nd September, 2015.
Already, Saraki has allegedly come under immense pressure from within the National Assembly to resign and face his trial.
Some senators are canvassing the appointment of a Senate President in the interim to allow Saraki effectively take care of his trial while still being assured of the safety of his position at the end of the CCT trial.
To them, “with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock, the chickens are coming home to roost.”
However, other lawmakers still loyal to the embattled Senate President have opposed calls for his resignation citing the issue of fair hearing and justice.
Post-Nigeria learnt that the charges of false declaration of assets, if proven, carry grave consequences for Saraki.
Related: Saraki in total disarray as APC ‘gods’ sentence him to ‘death’
If he is convicted on any of the allegations, the guilty verdict would have deleterious consequences for him at three levels.
First, a conviction could see Saraki relinquishing the position he currently occupies as senate president.
Second, a conviction could also damage irreparably his reputation as a two-time governor of Kwara State, a qualified medical doctor, and a rising politician with an eye on the 2019 Presidential ticket.
Third, by law if the CCT finds that a public officer contravened any provision of the Code of Conduct, such person could be punished by being asked to vacate the office he/she occupies, seizure and forfeiture of assets in contention, or made to suffer any other penalty as may be imposed by the National Assembly.
Recall, that Saraki emerged Senate President on the floor of the Red Chamber on June 9, 2015, against the wish of some leaders of the APC, who had indicated their preference for his rival, Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Since his emergence as Senate President, the body language and certain utterances of those who opposed to his emergence had shown that they would have their pound of flesh.
This perhaps was why Saraki, while being put in the dock at his first appearance at the CCT disclosed that the reason why he was being tried was because he is Senate President.

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