There were indications on Saturday that senators opposed to Senate President Bukola Saraki under the aegis of the Senate Unity Forum, had regrouped to force Saraki out of the seat.
The new move to force the senate president out of office is coming on the heels of the Friday decision of the Supreme Court that his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal should continue. The highest court in the land had affirmed the propriety of Saraki’s trial, on 13 counts of false assets declaration, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
It was gathered that the Lawan group, as part of measures to force Saraki to resign, would also spearhead a call for the recall of their colleagues who are insisting on Saraki as the leader of the upper chamber.
The SUF, which supported Senator Ahmed Lawan for the senate presidency last year, had kicked against Saraki’s emergence as the president of the senate.
A member of the group, who confided in Sunday Punch, said the SUF had not given up on moves to force Saraki out of the senate presidency.
He said, “Although, we do not have the numerical strength to remove the man, in the days ahead, we are reaching out to senators in the other camp. We will make them see why Saraki should resign because of the integrity of the senate.
“This is besides calling on Nigerians to recall their representatives, who fail to mount pressure on Saraki to resign. It is not a question of impeachment, but insisting on the man’s resignation.”
When contacted, the spokesperson for the SUF, Senator Kabir Marafa, told one of our correspondents in Abuja that what the group had expected Saraki to do was to voluntarily resign his position. He added that since Saraki would not resign, Nigerians needed to speak up on the issue.
He said, “If the senate president refused to step aside, we expect Nigerians especially those who voted for us to represent them at the senate to ask questions. We expect them to ask us why we failed to take action despite the bad image that the development is creating for the federal parliament.”
“However, if the senate president refuses to resign and neither the leadership nor the entire Senate mounts any pressure on him to do so, then we would call on Nigerians to recall all their representatives in the Senate because we have failed in our responsibilities.
Another member of the SUF from the South West geopolitical zone, who craved anonymity said, the issue of impeachment was unnecessary because the senate president would have his fate determined at the court.
He said, “Why talking of impeachment when the man is battling with serious criminal prosecution. How do you expect such a person to continue to lead us after he would have been declared guilty? The leadership of the Senate will take appropriate action when the time comes”
But Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East), a member of the pro-Saraki group, ruled out any idea of impeachment against Saraki.
Anyanwu, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Relations, said the upper chamber had moved on beyond the leadership crisis and insisted that the senators who were in support of Saraki were more than those who were possibly against him.
Last year, 81 out of the 109 senators passed a vote of confidence on Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and other principal officers appointed by the various caucuses of the chamber, to run the affairs of the 8th Senate.
But Senate President Bukola Saraki has expressed confidence that he will be victorious during his impending trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated this in an interview with our correspondent on Saturday.
He said that his principal, Bukola Saraki, would be victorious after his trial at the CCT.
Reacting to a question on what would be Saraki’s line of action at the CCT, Olaniyonu said, “We have given our reaction through a statement on Friday where we expressed confidence that we would have our day at the court. I am not going to say anything outside that.”
Saraki had in a statement by Olaniyonu on Friday, expressed disappointment over the judgment of the apex court but noted that he would get justice at the end of the day.
The Afonja Descendants Union in the Ilorin Emirate and Ganmo has also advised Saraki to resign as the Senate President.
The President, Afonja Descendants Union, Alhaji Olola Kasum in a statement on Saturday said Saraki should resign voluntarily to spare himself further financial loss, political agony and embarrassment.
Kasum said, “The Afonja family located in several parts of Ilorin Emirate comprising Ilorin East, Ilorin West,Ilorin South, Asa and substantial part of Ifelodun Local Governments in Kwara State, take this opportunity to advise the embattled President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki to drop his Senate presidential position and concentrate on his senatorial responsibility which has been virtually abandoned.
“His recent legal storm at the Supreme Court, where he was advised to return to his much-dreaded Code of Conduct Tribunal should be enough lesson to teach him that no amount of profligacy, supplication and political manoeuvring can save him from further agony and destruction if he continues to persist in his unrealistic and unfeasible ambition.”
Falana hails Supreme Court, asks Saraki to resign
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Saturday asked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to resign his position in order to preserve the integrity of the National Assembly.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria in an interview with our correspondent, said the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court would add value to the battle against corruption.
Citing an instance involving a former Senate President, the late Chuba Okadigbo, Falana asked Saraki to resign having undertaken to prove his innocence before the CCT.
He said, “Having undertaken to prove his innocence at the Code of Conduct Trubunal Senator Saraki should resign as senate president so as to preserve the integrity of the National Assembly.
“When Senators Chuba Okadigbo and Adolphus Wabara were indicted they were made to step down as senate presidents.”