Google+ Followers

Saturday, 23 April 2016

MY CANDID LETTER TO THE SENATE PRESIDENT


PENDULUM By DELE MOMODU
Your Excellency, I’m convinced the time has come to write you this letter despite the fact that I have some measure of access to you. I decided to do this in order to tackle the mischief makers who believe I’m your very close friend and as such must be a rabid supporter of yours. I have been accused of all sorts of garbage including being paid heavy sums of money from your bottomless pocket. I’m aware that most of these guys can never believe that anyone could stand up for principle without pecuniary gains. But before I go into the meat of this letter, I need to state my background briefly as I’m sure you don’t even know me well enough to understand and appreciate my socio-political trajectory.
I have read all sorts about you and I and it is necessary sometimes to put the records straight for the sake of doubting Thomases who can never see anything good in others. You were a Governor for eight years and I can’t remember ever meeting you one on one. The only time I believe we exchanged physical pleasantries would have been at the 70th birthday dinner hosted in honour of your mother-in-law, Erelu Ojuolape Ojora at The Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos some years back. I remember seeing and greeting you and a few of the former and current Governors present including Olusegun Osoba, James Ibori, Babatunde Fashola and others.
I would later see one of the pictures I took at the party and read many years after that I was busy drinking champagne with James Ibori who was being wanted for several cases of corruption and so on. I could not believe my eyes because the picture showed clearly that I was chatting with Chief Olusegun Osoba while Ibori minding his business behind me but someone needed to rubbish me for reasons I could never fathom. Not just that, Ibori was still a Governor and would I run away from a function or refuse to greet people so as not to be accused of hobnobbing with corrupt leaders?
The next time I interfaced with you was after you employed Mr Bamikole Omishore who was my American campaign coordinator in Washington DC, when I joined the Presidential race from 2010-2011. I was happy that you got such a brilliant young man to manage your social media. But you and I got closer for only one reason in the past one year plus because we both campaigned vigorously for Major General Muhammadu Buhari and you and Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi were the best of pals and he has been my friend long before he became Governor of Rivers State. I loved the way you, Amaechi, Kwankwaso, Wamako, Tambuwal, Atiku Abubakar, and others took the bold decision that would change the course of Nigerian history for better or for worse when you abandoned PDP despite threats and harassments. I must have met you about twice in your Lagos home to strategise and was particularly impressed with your ability to rally the likes of Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Wale Tinubu and others who ordinarily would have felt a need to support the government in power. I was informed you were able to raise some stupendous amount of money during and after the APC primaries. We talked more on phone and you assured me constantly that everything was on course. The rest is history.
However trouble started as soon as victory came. I knew you had only one ambition and that was to become the Senate President. I thought that was a legitimate dream but did not envisage that it would turn out to be your albatross. Politics in Africa, and probably elsewhere, is a deadly game. You’ve fought several battles in your life but I doubt if you ever bargained for this one. It all started like a joke. Your party apparatchik was obviously opposed to your candidacy. You were equally determined to realise your life ambition. One of the rumours then was that you could not be trusted with power and that in the next four years you would have become unstoppable if you decide to go headlong for the Presidency. I’m not a member of your party so I could not understand what the hullabaloo was all about. The manner you emerged caught everyone unawares. The biggest problem was the fact that you sought and got the unequivocal support of members of the PDP in the Senate and even did a deal that made it possible for one of them to become your deputy. That was the hara-kiri you committed and your enemies would never forgive you for that.
One thing led to another, and things fell apart and the centre could no longer hold. You probably underestimated the resolve of your enemies to cut you down to size. The next we saw were allegations of impropriety levelled against you at the Code of Conduct Bureau. You were said to have been dodgy in your assets declaration forms. Anyway, it seemed you had touched the tiger by the tail and it remained to be seen how you would wriggle out of the monumental trouble you had inadvertently courted by your rebelliousness and bellicosity. I was personally irked that we were back to the Nuhu Ribadu days and I voiced my opinion openly. I was not defending you but defending the rights of man. I had thought naively that APC knew what it was getting into with an ill-assorted assemblage of different characters from varied backgrounds. I presumed there was an accord that all sinners became saints once they migrated and amalgamated with APC. The deluge of immigrants from PDP convinced me that President Buhari would have to sanctify the pollutants if any in the new party. Not once did I hear of any objection to the proliferation so I assumed all was well.
I never said you should not be prosecuted but that we should discourage a situation where every successive government uses anti-corruption camouflage to punish its enemies. This position was not meant to protect you but to discourage a perpetuation of such tradition. I wrote copiously against the harassment of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he went on similar trial. I had demonstrated publicly against the Yar’Adua cabal when they tried to stop Dr Goodluck Jonathan from assuming power when his boss was terminally ill. I remember also when I wrote an open letter to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu in 2007 and how I was viciously attacked by his supporters. But what happened after? Nuhu himself was forced into exile as a victim of impunity. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and The Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi, formerly known as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, became veritable victims of impunity and I was vehemently opposed to their ordeals.
I needed to state this background very well as a way of documenting my modest contribution to the discouragement of impunity as a former victim myself under the military regimes. Now that it seems many Nigerians are comfortable with setting fire to an entire village in order to catch some rats, I will not belabour the issue further.  Please, permit me to now address the case at hand. I want you to know that no matter what you do henceforth, the case against you will go on. The earlier you resign yourself to fate the better. You have done all you can to prevent this from happening and the time has come for you to defend yourself as best as you can. I understand the psychological trauma you are under. You are in utter shock that a party you laboured with others to build and nurture has decided to treat you as a pariah. You are stupefied at the sudden turn of events.
But let me advise you, the Judiciary is still the best arbiter and if you’re truly innocent, you will be vindicated but if you are found guilty after exhausting all legal options available in the land you must take a bow and accept the judgment with equanimity. Even if the APC decides to sweep this under the carpet, someone may still bring it up tomorrow. It is in your best interest to face the bullet and hope for a miracle. I’m not one of those who have written off the Nigerian Judiciary. I will also not join those who have already convicted you in the court of public opinion. I’m a Christian and I know none of us can cast the first stone and we should be careful not to gloat over anyone’s misfortune.
Please, note that you must do nothing to pervert the course of justice by enacting hurriedly-packaged laws ostensibly meant to block your trial. It will further diminish you and make your sympathisers recoil in shame. To whom much is given, much is expected. God has been very kind to you and as a Muslim you must submit yourself only to the will of Allah, the only one who can forgive our sins. Who knows what the outcome may be at the end of the day?
I beg you in the name of God to take courage. Stand like a man and carry your heavy cross.
A TOAST TO FOLUKE ABDUL-RASAQ AT 60
One of the very quiet but powerful achievers in Nigeria today is a lady I admire and respect so much, Mrs Foluke Kafayat Abdul-Rasaq who is marking her 60th birthday today. I was stunned beyond words when I came across her resume recently. It is noteworthy that despite her intimidating credentials, she remains humble and focussed.
Mrs Abdul-Rasaq holds a Master of Science in Banking and Finance from the University of Ibadan and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School, Boston, USA. She is a non-Executive Director of Africa’s global bank UBA and has been the Chairman of the bank’s Board Credit Committee. As far back as 1997, she was Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State. She later served as an Executive Director of ML Securities, a stock brokerage firm.
A passionate lover of education, she set up the famous Bridge House College in Ikoyi, Lagos, an independent private sixth form co-educational institution. She is happily married with children and grandchildren.
Please, help me raise a toast to this virtuous woman.  ​

ThisDay

A CANDID RESPONSE FROM SENATE PRESIDENT TO PENDULUM


RIGHT OF REPLY
PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU
By DR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI
My dear brother Dele, let me thank you most sincerely for your article last weekend, “My Candid Letter to Saraki.” I take everything you said in that article to heart and I must commend you for your candidness indeed and the sincerity of your intentions.
As you said in your article, you are someone I have known more by reputation than by any personal relationship, until recently when we struck up some personal acquaintance based on our shared political interests, especially during the last presidential election.  However, I understand why you had to sound so defensive for knowing me at all and had to publicly map the boundaries of our relationship. We have got to that point in our country when we no longer believe that anyone could stand for anything based on principles and convictions alone. Moreover, in the growing culture of media crucifixion and presumed guilt; it is rare to find a voice like yours that calls for fairness and justice.
I would have simply sent you a text message or call you up for your candid advice to me, which I take seriously. But I feel the need to make some clarifications on some of the issues you raised. One of them was that in seeking to be Senate President, I struck a deal with the PDP and made it possible for one of them to be the Deputy Senate President. I know this is the dominant narrative out there, but it is far from the truth.
I did not do any deal with the PDP. I did not have to because even before the PDP Senators as a group took the decision to support my candidature on the eve of the inauguration of the 8th Senate, 22 PDP Senators had already written a letter supporting me. What I did not envisage was a situation where some members of my party would not be in the chambers that day, especially when the clerk had already received a proclamation from the President authorizing the inauguration of the Senate. Pray, if a team refused to turn up for a scheduled match and was consequently walked over, would it be fair to blame the team that turned up and claimed victory? I believe those that made it possible for PDP to claim the DSP position were those who decided to hold a meeting with APC senators elsewhere at the time they ought to be in the chambers. What the PDP Senators did was to take advantage of their numerical strength at the material time. They simply lined up behind Senator Ike Ikweremadu while those of us from APC voted for Senator Ali Ndume. It was a game of numbers, and we were hopelessly outnumbered. If the PDP had nominated their own candidate for the Senate Presidency position that day, they would have won. It was as simple as that.
Secondly, I don’t know if you were aware that in the build up to Senate inauguration, the National Working Committee of the APC sent two signals. The first signal specified how leadership positions in the National Assembly have been zoned. While we were trying to give effect to this decision, the second signal came, which contained names of people to which these zoned position had been allocated. What was not acknowledged was that the President of the Senate is not an executive president. He is primarily one of 109 senators. Therefore, I cannot decide by myself who gets what in the Senate. Therefore, when they said I defied party directive in the choice of principal officers, they are invariably ascribing to me the power that I did not have.
My dear brother, most people talk about the Senate Presidency position, but this was not my only offence. I have also been accused of helping to frustrate some people’s opportunity to emerge as President Muhammadu  Buhari’s running mate. But I have no problem with anybody. My concern was that it would not be politically smart of us to run with a Muslim-Muslim ticket. I doubt if we would have won the election if we had done this, especially after the PDP had successfully framed us a Muslim party. I felt we were no longer in 1993. Perhaps, more than ever before, Nigerians are more sensitive to issues of religious balancing. This, my brother, was my original sin. What they say to themselves, among other things, was that if he could conspire against our ambition, then he must not realize his own ambition as well. For me however, I have no regrets about this. I only stood for what I believed was in the best interest of the party and in the best interest of Nigeria.
Now to the substantive issue of my trial. As you rightly noted, this trial is not about corruption. And I am happy that since my trial started, people who have followed the proceedings have now understood better what the whole thing is about. I have had opportunity to declare my assets four times since 2003. Over those years, the Code of Conduct Bureau had examined my claims. There was no time that they raised any issues with me on any item contained in my declarations over those twelve years. This is why you should be surprised that while I am being tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the witness and the evidence supplied against me were all from EFCC.
Like you, I have an abiding faith in the judiciary. May God forbid the day that we would give up on our judicial system. However, the onus is not on me to prove that I have confidence in the judiciary; the burden is on my prosecutors to prove to the world that justice is done in my case. If the process of fighting corruption is itself corrupt, then whatever victory is recorded would remain tainted and puerile!
Some people have wondered, why has Saraki been “jumping” from one court to another instead of facing his trial? To those people, I would say that I have only gone to those courts in search of justice. Strange things have happened, and they are still happening. For example, Section 3(d) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act states that the Bureau shall refer any breach or non-compliance to the Tribunal. However, where the person concerned makes a written admission of the breach, no reference to the Tribunal shall be necessary. It was on this basis that the case against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was dismissed in 2011, by this same judge in this same Tribunal on the grounds that he was not given an opportunity to deny or admit to any breach before he was brought before the tribunal. This was the ruling that I relied on in making my case. But what did the judge say? That he had judged in error in 2011 and he had since realized his error and departed from it. My question is whether a Tribunal of first instance has the power to reverse itself. I should expect that everyone would be worried if justice is applied differently to different people. However, in spite of my fears, I remain hopeful. Why? Because the judiciary does not end with this Tribunal.
Do you know the genesis of my real problems with President Goodluck Jonathan? I have had a touchy relationship with him, but the turning point was in September 2011 when I moved a motion on the floor of the Senate that exposed the N2.3 trillion fuel subsidy racket. I remain proud that I was the Senator that blew the lid on the most elaborate corruption scheme ever in this country. But after that I became a marked man. My security was withdrawn. I was invited and re-invited by the EFCC and the Special Fraud Unit. I was even declared wanted at a point. I believe I am still one of the most investigated former governors in this country. I have no doubt that if the Jonathan government was able to find anything against me, they would not have allowed me to go unpunished.
Let me make this point clearly. I do not expect to be shielded from prosecution because of my contribution to APC, if there was genuine basis for such action to be taken against me. But I have every reason to expect not to be persecuted by the party that I contributed so much to build. The New PDP may not have given APC victory in 2015, but it was an important factor in the dynamics that produced that victory. And with all sense of modesty, I was an important factor in the formation of New PDP; in leading that group to the APC; in ensuring our group’s support for the candidate during the primaries and in mobilizing substantial resources for the election. For these, I have not expected any special compensation. Rather, I only expect to be treated like every loyal party member and accorded the right to freely aspire!
Some people have complained that I have been taken Senators with me to my trial. But I did not force them to follow me. The Senators have freely accompanied me to the Tribunal not because they are loyal to me as Abubakar Bukola Saraki, but because they are committed to the principle that produced me as the President of the Senate. The same principle that produced Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President and produced Ali Ndume as Majority Leader. They see all of us in the Senate leadership as manifestation of their jealously guarded right to freely choose their own leaders. Because they know they made us their leaders without any external interference; they are confident that they retain the power to remove us whenever they so wish. They also know what this trial is all about. They believe I am being victimized because they have expressed their right to choose their own leadership. This is why I am not in any way perturbed by my absence in the chambers during this trial. Because I was not imposed on the Senate, I feel confident that the Senate will protect its own choice whether I am present or not. It is never about me. It is about the independence of the legislature. It has always been so since 1999. It is so today and it would be so in 2019, it would be so in 2023, and as long as we practice a democracy that operates on the principle of separation of powers.
My dear brother, let me end by observing that I am not alone in this trial. On trial with me in this process is the entire judicial system. On trial with me are our entire anti-corruption institutions and our avowed commitment to honestly fight corruption. On trial with me is our party’s promise to depart from the ways of the past, a promise that Nigerians voted for. And I dare say, on trial with me is our media; and their ethical commitment to report fairly and objectively. In the end, it is my earnest hope that whatever we do will ultimately ennoble our country.
Dr. Saraki  is President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria

ThisDay

Saraki: My Original Sin Was Opposing Muslim/Muslim Ticket in the APC


  I have every reason to expect not to be persecuted by the party I contributed so much to build
By Yemi Adebowale
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki has, for the first time, opened up on the intrigues of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over asset declaration issues and the role of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that his refusal to support a Muslim/Muslim ticket for the APC in the 2015 presidential election is largely responsible for his ordeal.
Saraki who wrote a reply to an earlier article published last Saturday by Dele Momodu in his Pendulum column said the position he took on the running mate issue was his “original sin” and those whose ambition were truncated by the position had been doing everything possible to frustrate him.
He said: “I have also been accused of helping to frustrate some people’s opportunity to emerge as President Muhammadu  Buhari’s running mate. But I have no problem with anybody. My concern was that it would not be politically smart of us to run with a Muslim-Muslim ticket. I doubt if we would have won the election if we had done this, especially after the PDP had successfully framed us a Muslim party. I felt we were no longer in 1993. Perhaps, more than ever before, Nigerians are more sensitive to issues of religious balancing. This was my original sin.
“What they say to themselves, among other things, was that ‘if he could conspire against our ambition, then he must not realise his own ambition as well.’ For me however, I have no regrets about this. I only stood for what I believed was in the best interest of the party and in the best interest of Nigeria. We have got to that point in our country when we no longer believe that anyone could stand for anything based on principles and convictions alone. Moreover, in the growing culture of media crucifixion and presumed guilt; it is rare to find a voice like yours that calls for fairness and justice.”
Saraki also chided his party for the role it has played so far in his trial. He said: “Let me make this point clearly. I do not expect to be shielded from prosecution because of my contribution to APC, if there was genuine basis for such action to be taken against me. But I have every reason to expect not to be persecuted by the party that I contributed so much to build. The New PDP may not have given APC victory in 2015, but it was an important factor in the dynamics that produced that victory.
“And with all sense of modesty, I was an important factor in the formation of New PDP; in leading that group to the APC; in ensuring our group’s support for the candidate during the primaries and in mobilising substantial resources for the election. For these, I have not expected any special compensation. Rather, I only expect to be treated like every loyal party member and accorded the right to freely aspire.”
On allegations that in seeking to be Senate President, he struck a deal with the PDP and made it possible for one of them to be the Deputy Senate President, Saraki said he knew it was the dominant narrative across the nation, but it was far from the truth.
He continued: “I did not do any deal with the PDP. I did not have to because even before the PDP Senators as a group took the decision to support my candidature on the eve of the inauguration of the 8th Senate, 22 PDP Senators had already written a letter supporting me. What I did not envisage was a situation where some members of my party would not be in the chambers that day, especially when the clerk had already received a proclamation from the President authorising the inauguration of the Senate.
“Pray, if a team refused to turn up for a scheduled match and was consequently walked over, would it be fair to blame the team that turned up and claimed victory? I believe those that made it possible for PDP to claim the Deputy Senate President position were those who decided to hold a meeting with APC senators elsewhere at the time they ought to be in the chambers. What the PDP Senators did was to take advantage of their numerical strength at the material time. They simply lined up behind Senator Ike Ikweremadu while those of us from APC voted for Senator Ali Ndume. It was a game of numbers, and we were hopelessly outnumbered. If the PDP had nominated their own candidate for the Senate Presidency position that day, they would have won. It was as simple as that.”
He said further that his ongoing trial was not about corruption: “I am happy that since my trial started, people who have followed the proceedings have now understood better what the whole thing is about. I have had opportunity to declare my assets four times since 2003. Over those years, the Code of Conduct Bureau had examined my claims. There was no time that they raised any issues with me on any item contained in my declarations over those twelve years. This is why you should be surprised that while I am being tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the witness and the evidence supplied against me were all from the EFCC.
“Like you, I have an abiding faith in the judiciary. May God forbid the day that we would give up on our judicial system. However, the onus is not on me to prove that I have confidence in the judiciary; the burden is on my prosecutors to prove to the world that justice is done in my case. If the process of fighting corruption is itself corrupt, then whatever victory is recorded would remain tainted and puerile.
“Let me end by observing that I am not alone in this trial. On trial with me in this process is the entire judicial system. On trial with me is our entire anti-corruption institutions and our avowed commitment to honestly fight corruption. On trial with me is our party’s promise to depart from the ways of the past, a promise that Nigerians voted for. And I dare say, on trial with me is our media and their ethical commitment to report fairly and objectively. In the end, it is my earnest hope that whatever we do will ultimately ennoble our country.”

ThisDay

Twist in Senate peace moves as senators form G77




*To remove EFCC from presidency control
*Vow to back Saraki
*To confront older senators over juicy committees
 By Henry Umoru.
 STRONG indications emerged early yesterday of a hardening of position by senators who have coalesced into a Group of 77 drawn from various parties and camps to protect what they have dubbed as the integrity of the Senate.Senate5The new G77 which had its maiden meeting on Thursday night has meanwhile launched moves to extricate the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC from the control of the presidency in the light of claims by the senators that it had become a tool of the administration.The G77 comprising mostly of new senators it was gathered, also up in arms against older senators who they claim have monopolised the juicy committees of the Senate to the detriment of the newer ones. The maiden meeting of the G77 was hosted by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who incidentally was not at home at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting monitored by Saturday Vanguard commenced shortly after 7.00 p.m. on Thursday and ended just before midnight following which some senators also broke up into groups. 36 senators were physically present at the meeting which inside sources disclosed has a membership roll of 77, almost all of them new senators. Remarkably, the group is also putting forward itself as a bulwark for the embattled Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki with members vowing to defend him against what they alleged as the persecution of the executive branch of government. The formation of the new group came barely 24 hours after senators resolved in a closed session on Wednesday to put aside all acrimonies and project the institution as one. In that light the senators it was learnt resolved to withdraw all cases against the election of Saraki as the Senate President. It was also resolved that as a sop to critics that the Senate would withdraw the amendment bill to the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act. However, that agreement ran into trouble at the G77 meeting on Thursday as senators in the group resolved to push forward an amendment bill to the law establishing the EFCC to among other things remove the president’s right as appointing power and transfer same to the National Judicial Council, NJC. Besides, the amendment aims to ensure that the minimum qualification for the office of executive chairman of the EFCC would be a Deputy Director General of Police, DIG. A senator from the former Bendel State is to present the amendment bill which would be expected to be fast tracked. The senators at the Thursday meeting particularly lamented what they claimed as the way and manner the EFCC was being used to hound what they claimed as perceived opponents of the administration. The case of former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and his son was given as a particular instance at the meeting as it was claimed that the EFCC rushed to file charges without investigation. As part of the amendment the EFCC would be compelled to finish investigations before filing charges against anyone, a source at the meeting disclosed. Noting the determination of the new senators to get their own entitlements in the chamber, a senator who attended the meeting told Saturday Vanguard that the group would frustrate what they described as the over ambitious nature of the older senators who are anointing themselves as those that will take over from the embattled Senate President, Senator Saraki. The source also disclosed that the G77 came into existence to frustrate any gang up against Senator Saraki’s leadership of the Senate. Among those sighted at the meeting were Senators Samuel Anyanwu, PDP, Imo East; Clifford Ordia, PDP, Edo Central; Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South; Ben Murray Bruce, PDP, Bayelsa East; Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West; Biodun Olujimi, PDP, Ekiti South; Isa Misau, APC, Bauchi Central, among others including Akpabio who came into the meeting not too long before it ended.

Vanguard.



Friday, 22 April 2016

Senators Push Back Against Saraki’s Intrigues, Use Of Senate To Fight Personal Battles

Several senators and politicians, speaking to SaharaReporters on condition of anonymity, have revealed how Senate President Bukola Saraki manages to maintain control over the upper legislative chamber and to keep many senators loyal to his leadership in the face of mounting evidence of his corruption at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). Mr. Saraki is currently facing charges of false asset declaration and corruption at the CCT. But the sources explained that some senators may be resisting Mr. Saraki’s intrigues.
Bukola Saraki attending his Code of Conduct Tribunal for corruption
One of our sources revealed that a growing number of senators were becoming alarmed about the extent to which their colleagues had gone to serve Mr. Saraki’s personal interests. “In Senator Saraki’s absence we have held three days of closed-door sessions and discussed how to ward off public outrage against us,” the source said. He added: “It was decided that the Senate should drop some of its unpopular attempts to protect Dr. Saraki.” According to him, one of the resolutions was to back down from the Senate’s decision to summon Justice Danladi Umar, who is handling Mr. Saraki’s trial, to appear before senators to be questioned on allegations of corruption against him. The charges against the judge were dismissed in the House of Representatives when the men who made them failed to show up to back them up.
“We decided it doesn’t make sense to continue harassing Justice Umar when the charges against him were never authenticated. In the same vein, we decided it is counterproductive to pursue amendments of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. The public reaction against the amendment was very fierce,” said the senator.
The amendment would have made it harder for the CCT to prosecute public officials for corruption.
Another senator disclosed that tempers often flared up during the closed-door meetings. According to him, at one point Senator Dino Melaye, one of Mr. Saraki’s staunchest allies, threatened to beat up Senator James Manager from Delta South senatorial district. The source said Mr. Melaye became incensed after Senator Manager stated that Mr. Saraki’s maneuvers to use senators to scuttle his trial had caused great public anger against the Senate.
“Senator Manager did not mince words that the trial of the Senate President was now creating huge problems for us,” our source said, adding that several other senators spoke in the same vein during the closed-door session.
Despite efforts by Senator Melaye and other pro-Saraki hawks, the majority of senators decided it was time to de-escalate the tension between the Senate and the CCT. “Nigerians now perceive us as a group committed to the protection of one man who happens to be the Senate President. It is time we restore[d] public confidence and support,” one of our sources said. He added: “In the process, we decided to drop [the] Ethics Committee investigation of Senator Kabir Marafa, an outspoken opponent to Dr. Saraki.”
Several sources told SaharaReporters that the decision to end the targeting of Mr. Marafa infuriated Senator Sani Yerima, a former Governor of Zamfara State. Mr. Yerima is a controversial political figure who introduced Sharia law in his state in his first tenure as governor. Shortly after leaving Government House in 2007, Senator Yerima triggered national and international outrage when he married a 13-year-old Egyptian girl.
Speaking about Mr. Saraki’s manipulation of senators, two sources disclosed that the embattled Senate President recently distributed 36 new Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs to his closest allies in the Senate. One source stated that Senator Manager had received a car prior to his protests about Mr. Saraki’s image and its effect on the Senate as a whole.
In a bid to stem the growing dissension against Mr. Saraki, Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, and a few senators organized a 12-member committee with two representatives from each of the six geopolitical zones to reconcile members. Among other things, the Senate resolved that all members involved in litigation against the leadership of the Senate should withdraw such lawsuit. SaharaReporters learnt that a group of senators led by Senator Ahmed Lawan immediately rejected the proposal, which would have had them withdrawing a forgery lawsuit they filed against the Deputy Senate President and the outgoing clerk at the Senate who assisted him in forging Senate rules that enabled Mr. Saraki to get elected as President.
Over the course of these three days, the senators also discussed the controversial issue of budget padding, which led President Muhammadu Buhari, when he found suspicious allocations, to reject the budget and call for talks with the Senate leadership.
Senatorial sources disclosed that Senator Danjuma Goje, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, did not show up at the meetings, adding that Mr. Goje was behind the diversion of funds from the Lagos—Calabar Railway to other areas of the budget.
One senator alleged that pro-Saraki senators also used the budgetary padding to garner political support for the embattled Senate President. One source explained that almost every member of the Senate was either a chair or vice-chair of a committee as Mr. Saraki had intentionally increased the number of Senate standing committees from 57 to 70. “The budget was padded in a way that each Committee chairman and vice-chair would receive at least N2 billion in ‘special projects’ while the Senate leadership would get at least N4 billion each in such projects,” one source stated. He added that new Senators who are neither chair or vice chair of committees were each allocated N400 million in special projects.
Our source revealed that many senators were reluctant to dump Mr. Saraki for a new Senate President because such a change would entail the dissolution of committee assignments and the loss of perks as committee chairs.
A civil rights source in Abuja told SaharaReporters that Mr. Saraki had also corrupted some players in the non-government organizations (NGOs). “Many NGOs that campaigned for openness at the National Assembly were themselves co-opted into his [Mr. Saraki’s] inner circle,” the source said. “That’s why several of them have been unable to realize their objective of getting the public to see the details of the opaque budget of the National Assembly. And yet Senator Saraki had pledged to collaborate with these NGOs to bring matters of governance to the public domain.”
Our correspondent learned that, during the final closed-door session, the deputy chair of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Sonni Ugbuoji from Ebonyi South senatorial district, shocked his colleagues by declaring that he was not aware of the details of the budget that his chairperson, Senator Goje, sent to President Buhari for assent. Senator Ekweremadu also disclosed he had not seen the budget breakdown till now. His admission infuriated some Senators, but he hurriedly appealed to them to stay united, pointing to those he called the enemies of the Senate from outside. He then declared the session open and closed to enable some members to join Mr. Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Saharareporters

CCT Trial: Saraki Dumped In Pool Of Own Fate; Dino Melaye, Goje, Wammako, Others Back Down as Camp In Disarray


The Nation - Hours after the refusal of the fundamental rights application by Senate President Bukola Saraki to stop his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by a Federal High Court in Abuja, there were signs at the weekend that some of his prominent loyalists within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may be retracing their steps.
There were strong indications that they may be opting to support an ongoing move by the leadership of the party to unite the party’s caucus in the national assembly.
Reliable national assembly sources told The Nation yesterday that prior to the judgment delivered by Justice Abdul Kafarati on Friday, some frontline supporters of the embattled Senate President have resolved to withdraw their support for Saraki in his bid to remain in office as Senate President while his trial at the CCT lasts.
In the meantime, the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has ruled out the possibility of the party losing the senate presidency to the opposition. In an interview with an online medium, The Premium Times, he said, “We don’t take anything for granted. As they are planning, we are also planning. The situation is under control.”
He insisted that the party is not likely to lose the position to the opposition, but noted that should this happen, it will have to be the ‘price’ for the desired ‘change’.
It was also learnt that some members of the Senate President’s camp in the national assembly are now of the view that the incessant face-off between the legislature and the presidency allegedly being generated by Saraki’s trial at the CCT, is needless and avoidable.
“Hence, some of them are ready to support a change in the leadership of the senate to save the ruling party from further crises and at the same time represent the yearnings of their constituents for good governance by ensuring strict adherence to the provisions of the laws of the country,” our source, a Senator from Lagos State, said.
“Mr. Senate President is currently facing charges that borders on false declaration of assets … The issue has gone beyond mere accusations as he has already gone down in history as the first serving Senate President in the country to be docked in a competent court.
“Sadly, one recalls that there is a way these things have been handled in the past to save the national assembly, and by extension, the government, from unnecessary embarrassment. All former presiding officers of the National Assembly, who were faced with similar charges, first resigned their positions in order to protect the integrity and sanctity of the country’s hallowed chambers.”
The senator regrets that what has been happening in the last few months “were blatant display of disregard for the sanctity of the senate by some misled and confused senators whose loyalty is not to the country, but to an individual or group.”
The senator added, “But one is happy today, to tell you that things are changing for better. For one, I can tell you the APC caucus in the senate is working towards uniting all. We are healing the divide imposed on us by self serving individuals. We are all returning our loyalty to the party and the government.”
The Nation gathered that attendance at the regular and emergency meetings  of the ‘Like Minds Senators’, the group of senators loyal to the President of Senate, has plummeted in recent times, giving credence to talks about serious cracks in the ranks of Saraki  loyalists.
Senate sources put the reduction in attendance to the activities of a committee instituted by the APC caucus in the national assembly to unite the legislators elected on the platform of the ruling party. According to reliable sources, the committee, that has core Saraki allies in the likes of Senators Aliyu Wammako, Danjuma Goje, Kabiru Gaya, Ahmed Yerima and Adamu Aliero, as members, is championing a united APC caucus that is loyal to the party and government as against the current arrangement of a divided caucus.
For instance, a meeting called yesterday at the residence of Saraki in continuation of the one held earlier in the week recorded abysmal attendance in spite of the fact that it was scheduled early enough and a text message was sent few hours before the kick off to remind senators.
Not only was the attendance low, the discussion, we learnt, was unimpressive. Those who attended, it was said, were downcast and disturbed. The meeting, unlike the one a few days earlier where the decision to review the laws establishing the CCT was taken, was devoid of the usual vibrancy, our source added.
The Nation also gathered that the text message reminding Like Minds Senators of the meeting was, unlike the previous ones, sent by an aide of the Senate President. A prominent Senator from Kogi State is known to have sent invites to such meeting before now.
“What we heard was that the Senator who used to do the invite tactically avoided doing same for the last meeting. To further cause anxiety in the Senate President’s camp, he was absent at the meeting where he was scheduled to brief the Senators on certain steps taken to advance the cause of the group. His action and absence formed the chunk of the discussion at the unimpressive meeting,” our source added.
It was also gathered that the APC caucus in the lower chamber recently met to discuss the crises in the national assembly and resolved that members of the caucus must desist from taking side in the Saraki saga.
“The House caucus took a decision that none of us should drag the lower chamber into the senate crisis by making inflammatory statements. Specifically, we are to henceforth toe the party’s line in all matters. The meeting also resolved that there should be no division within the caucus.”
Another member of the lower chamber from Kogi State told our correspondent that effort to unite the APC caucus in the national assembly is yielding fruit to the detriment of the camp of pro-Saraki hardliners. According to him, it is only a matter of time before a final position on the various bones of contention in the national assembly is announced.
The Nation also gathered that the dwindling fortunes of the Saraki camp is responsible for its inability to push through the suspension plot allegedly instituted against the Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabir Marafa, an unrepentant critic of the Senate President.
Weeks after the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, submitted its report on its investigation on Marafa, the Senate has failed to deliberate on the panel’s recommendations. Marafa was accused of granting a press interview to allegedly mislead the public about the senate.
Marafa, a second-timer at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, served as the mouthpiece of the Unity Forum, an umbrella of senators that worked for Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North), the preferred candidate of the APC for the plum job.
Following the Supreme Court verdict on the appeal of Saraki on his CCT trial, Marafa demanded the resignation of Saraki. He had said, “What is happening in the CCT is personal to Saraki and has nothing to do with his position as the Senate President. It has now reached the time when Saraki should take a bow to enable him concentrate on his case at the CCT.  I don’t have anything against him as a person.”
Expectedly, pro-Saraki Senators made a huge show of the interview and demanded the immediate suspension of the Zamfara senator. But following an unexpected show of support for Marafa by other senators across party lines, Saraki referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.  He asked the committee to report back a week later.
According to senate sources, the Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East)-led committee has recommended Marafa’s suspension but the development has failed to receive the blessing of majority of the members of the senate as many feel Marafa has not done anything wrong that would warrant any punishment.
Our source also attributed the new thinking in the national assembly to both the effort of some party leaders in senate and the failure of Saraki to stop his trial at the CCT in spite of several efforts to get competent law courts to declare that he shouldn’t be docked.
Kafarati’s judgement on Friday put paid to earlier optimism that the Senate President will get a reprieve. The judge held that the reliefs prayed for by Saraki “are not cognisable under Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution”, which lists the fundamental rights of citizens.
Saraki had, for the umpteenth time through his counsel, Ajibola Oluyede, filed the application challenging the trial at the CCT for falling short of Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution. He argued that the prosecution wants to achieve the political objective of the All Progressives Congress (APC)
Saraki’s counsel, Oluyede has indicated intention to appeal the verdict of the court before the Court of Appeal.
The APC chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun has declared that a political solution may not be in sight for the ongoing Senate President’s trial at the CCT.
According to him, a purported political solution as is being bandied by a section of the political class will negate the change philosophy upon which the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government was voted into power last year.
He said “The President is certainly not the type who will interfere in a judicial matter,” as that would also negate his straight personality.
“Things must be done normally. And that is part of the change mantra that we must play by the rule so we don’t truncate the processes.”
Odigie-Oyegun explained that “People don’t seem to internalize what change is. If the President says “court, free that man”, the same president can say “court, imprison that man.” Is that the Nigeria you want? No! Change means allowing the law to take the proper course. I can tell you the President won’t interfere. The President is straight definite, straight and firm in all facets.”
On the possibility of the party losing the senate president position to opposition PDP, Oyegun said, “We don’t take anything for granted. As they are planning, we are also planning. The situation is under control.”
He said, “I don’t think we will lose that position. But sometimes, for change to take place there is price you have to pay. So losing the position may be sacrifice for change.”
On speculations of in-fighting in the party, Oyegun said this is normal as there are always different views. “Interests differ. Some feel they are not sufficiently rewarded or consulted. So, it happens. We are just barely one year in power.”
On complaints that Nigerians have yet to feel the much-touted change, the APC chairman said change is a ‘process’ and a ‘progressive’ phenomenon. “When the process fully completes, we will have a totally new Nigeria.”
 
NewsPunch

Corruption Trial: Senate President Saraki’s Camp In Disarray, Dino Melaye Failed To Appear At Poorly Attended Meeting Of 'Likemind' Senators

Hours after the refusal of the fundamental rights application by Senate President Bukola Saraki to stop his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by a Federal High Court in Abuja, there were signs at the weekend that some of his prominent loyalists within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may be retracing their steps.
There were strong indications that they may be opting to support an ongoing move by the leadership of the party to unite the party’s caucus in the national assembly.
Reliable national assembly sources told The Nation yesterday that prior to the judgment delivered by Justice Abdul Kafarati on Friday, some frontline supporters of the embattled Senate President have resolved to withdraw their support for Saraki in his bid to remain in office as Senate President while his trial at the CCT lasts.
In the meantime, the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has ruled out the possibility of the party losing the senate presidency to the opposition. In an interview with an online medium, The Premium Times, he said, “We don’t take anything for granted. As they are planning, we are also planning. The situation is under control.”
He insisted that the party is not likely to lose the position to the opposition, but noted that should this happen, it will have to be the ‘price’ for the desired ‘change’.
It was also learnt that some members of the Senate President’s camp in the national assembly are now of the view that the incessant face-off between the legislature and the presidency allegedly being generated by Saraki’s trial at the CCT, is needless and avoidable.
“Hence, some of them are ready to support a change in the leadership of the Senate to save the ruling party from further crises and at the same time represent the yearnings of their constituents for good governance by ensuring strict adherence to the provisions of the laws of the country,” our source, a Senator from Lagos State, said.
“Mr. Senate President is currently facing charges that borders on false declaration of assets … The issue has gone beyond mere accusations as he has already gone down in history as the first serving Senate President in the country to be docked in a competent court.
“Sadly, one recalls that there is a way these things have been handled in the past to save the national assembly and by extension, the government, from unnecessary embarrassment. All former presiding officers of the National Assembly, who were faced with similar charges, first resigned their positions in order to protect the integrity and sanctity of the country’s hallowed chambers.”
The senator regrets that what has been happening in the last few months “were a blatant display of disregard for the sanctity of the Senate by some misled and confused senators whose loyalty is not to the country, but to an individual or group.”
The senator added, “But one is happy today, to tell you that things are changing for better. For one, I can tell you the APC caucus in the Senate is working towards uniting all. We are healing the divide imposed on us by self-serving individuals. We are all returning our loyalty to the party and the government.”
The Nation gathered that attendance at the regular and emergency meetings of the ‘Like Minds Senators,' the group of senators loyal to the President of Senate, has plummeted in recent times, giving credence to talks about serious cracks in the ranks of Saraki loyalists.
Senate sources put the reduction in attendance to the activities of a committee instituted by the APC caucus in the national assembly to unite the legislators elected on the platform of the ruling party. According to reliable sources, the committee, which has core Saraki allies in the likes of Senators Aliyu Wammako, Danjuma Goje, Kabiru Gaya, Ahmed Yerima and Adamu Aliero, as members, is championing a united APC caucus that is loyal to the party and government as against the current arrangement of a divided caucus.
For instance, a meeting called yesterday at the residence of Saraki in continuation of the one held earlier in the week recorded abysmal attendance in spite of the fact that it was scheduled early enough, and a text message was sent few hours before the kick-off to remind senators.
Not only was the attendance low, the discussion, we learnt, was unimpressive. Those who attended, it was said, were downcast and disturbed. The meeting, unlike the one a few days earlier where the decision to review the laws establishing the CCT was taken, was devoid of the usual vibrancy, our source added.
The Nation also gathered that the text message reminding Like Minds Senators of the meeting was, unlike the previous ones, sent by an aide of the Senate President. A prominent Senator from Kogi State is known to have sent invites to such meeting before now.
“What we heard was that the Senator, who used to do the invite tactically avoided doing same for the last meeting. To further cause anxiety in the Senate President’s camp, he was absent at the meeting where he was scheduled to brief the Senators on certain steps taken to advance the cause of the group. His action and absence formed the chunk of the discussion at the unimpressive meeting,” our source added.
It was also gathered that the APC caucus in the lower chamber recently met to discuss the crises in the national assembly and resolved that members of the caucus must desist from taking the side in the Saraki saga.
“The House caucus took a decision that none of us should drag the lower chamber into the Senate crisis by making inflammatory statements. Specifically, we are to toe henceforth the party’s line in all matters. The meeting also resolved that there should be no division within the caucus.”
Another member of the lower chamber from Kogi State told our correspondent that effort to unite the APC caucus in the national assembly is yielding fruit to the detriment of the camp of pro-Saraki hardliners. According to him, it is only a matter of time before a final position on the various bones of contention in the national assembly is announced.
The Nation also gathered that the dwindling fortunes of the Saraki camp is responsible for its inability to push through the suspension plot allegedly instituted against the Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabir Marafa, an unrepentant critic of the Senate President.
Weeks after the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, submitted its report on its investigation on Marafa, the Senate has failed to deliberate on the panel’s recommendations. Marafa was accused of granting a press interview to mislead the public allegedly about the Senate.
Marafa, a second-timer at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, served as the mouthpiece of the Unity Forum, an umbrella of senators that worked for Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North), the preferred candidate of the APC for the plum job.
Following the Supreme Court verdict on the appeal of Saraki on his CCT trial, Marafa demanded the resignation of Saraki. He had said, “What is happening in the CCT is personal to Saraki and has nothing to do with his position as the Senate President. It has now reached the time when Saraki should take a bow to enable him to concentrate on his case at the CCT.  I don’t have anything against him as a person.”
Expectedly, pro-Saraki Senators made a huge show of the interview and demanded the immediate suspension of the Zamfara senator. But following an unexpected show of support for Marafa by other senators across party lines, Saraki referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges, and Public Petitions.  He asked the committee to report back a week later.
According to Senate sources, the Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East)-led committee has recommended Marafa’s suspension, but the development has failed to receive the blessing of a majority of the members of the Senate as many feel Marafa has not done anything wrong that would warrant any punishment.
Our source also attributed the new thinking in the national assembly to both the effort of some party leaders in the senate and the failure of Saraki to stop his trial at the CCT in spite of several efforts to get competent law courts to declare that he shouldn’t be docked.
Kafarati’s judgement on Friday put paid to earlier optimism that the Senate President will get a reprieve. The judge held that the reliefs prayed for by Saraki “are not cognisable under Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution,” which lists the fundamental rights of citizens.
Saraki had, for the umpteenth time through his counsel, Ajibola Oluyede, filed the application challenging the trial at the CCT for falling short of Article 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution. He argued that the prosecution wants to achieve the political objective of the All Progressives Congress (APC)
Saraki’s counsel, Oluyede has indicated intention to appeal the verdict of the court before the Court of Appeal.
The APC chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun has declared that a political solution may not be in sight for the ongoing Senate President’s trial at the CCT.
According to him, a purported political solution as is being bandied by a section of the political class will negate the change philosophy upon which the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government was voted into power last year.
He said “The President is certainly not the type who will interfere in a judicial matter,” as that would also negate his straight personality.
“Things must normally be done. And that is part of the change mantra that we must play by the rule, so we don’t truncate the processes.”
Odigie-Oyegun explained that “People don’t seem to internalize what change is. If the President says “court, free that man,” the same president can say “court, imprison that man.” Is that the Nigeria you want? No! The change means allowing the law to take the proper course. I can tell you the President won’t interfere. The President is straight definite, straight and firm in all facets.”
On the possibility of the party losing the president Senate position to opposition PDP, Oyegun said, “We don’t take anything for granted. As they are planning, we are also planning. The situation is under control.”
He said, “I don’t think we will lose that position. But sometimes, for change to take place there is a price you have to pay. So losing the position may be the sacrifice for change.”
On speculations of in-fighting in the party, Oyegun said this is normal as there are always different views. “Interests differ. Some feel they are not sufficiently rewarded or consulted. So, it happens. We are just barely one year in power.”
On complaints that Nigerians have yet to feel the much-touted change, the APC chairman said change is a ‘process’ and a ‘progressive’ phenomenon. “When the process fully completes, we will have an entirely new Nigeria.”
Saharareporters

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

BREAKING: Senate bows to public pressure, suspends amendment of Code of Conduct law

Senate Chamber
The Nigerian Senate has suspended the ongoing amendment of the Code of Conduct Act which was initiated and referred to its committees on Judiciary and Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions last week.
The legislative body also resolved to suspend amendment of Administration of Criminal Justice Acts (ACJA).
Similarly, the report of the Ethics Committee on Kabiru Marafa, a senator known to be opposed to embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki, was also stepped down.
These decisions were taken during the Senate’s closed door session on Wednesday.
The lawmakers had on April 14 introduced a bill for an amendment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and Bureau Act, rushing it through second reading just 48 hours after it was first read.
In Nigeria’s lawmaking process, rarely do bills get such accelerated legislative action.
The bill, sponsored by Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP-Delta State), passed second reading and was subsequently referred to the committees on Judiciary and Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
The committees was to report back in two weeks.
Foramfera
THE AMENDMENT
The bill seeks to amend Section 3 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act “to give every public officer appearing before the Bureau fair hearing as provided for under Section 36 (2)(a) of the CFRN 1999 which provides:
“For an opportunity for the person whose rights and obligations may be affected to make representations to the administering authority before that authority makes the decision affecting that person.”
The existing law, Mr. Nwaoboshi said in his lead argument, does not provide for the Bureau (CCB)to take written statement from concerned public officers before referring a matter of alleged non-compliance to the Tribunal (the CCT).
More to come…