CCT: Senators Disagree Over Saraki’s Status

95

.Resign, Falana Tells Him
Senate President, Bukola Saraki may yet be facing another litmus test as there are indications that the recent Supreme Court ruling that he has a case to answer at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, would put the Senate in disarray in the days ahead, even as human rights advocate, Femi Falana has counseled him to step down as Senate President.
Already, Kabiru Marafa, a leader of the Unity Forum, a caucus of All Progressives Congress, APC, senators opposed to the emergence of Mr. Saraki as the Senate President, stated this on weekend in an phone interview.
The caucus, which Mr. Marafa has emerged as its most outspoken member, also includes Suleiman Hunkunyi and Ahmed Lawan ,who was favoured by the party to become the Senate President.
Mr. Marafa’s statement follows the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the trial of Mr. Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal CCT.
The apex court on Friday dismissed Mr. Saraki’s appeal against the competence and constitution of the CCT to try him for a 13-count charge of false asset declaration.
Mr. Saraki, who was being tried at the CCT by the federal government, had asked to Supreme Court to halt the trial.
Although Mr. Marafa noted that Mr. Saraki had the right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise; yet, he said “before he is disgraced out” he should “honourably” resign to save the image of the National Assembly and salvage national pride.
“The Senate should have understanding with Senator Saraki,” Mr. Marafa said. “What’s happening at the Code of Conduct Tribunal has nothing to do with the Unity Forum; it’s between him and the State. And with the country’s laws he’s presumed innocent until proven otherwise.”
However, he observed that the issue has reached “a critical stage” where Mr. Saraki’s corruption trial had questioned the Senate’s credibility and Nigeria’s pride.
“The most honourable thing for Saraki is to resign and face his prosecution. If he wins, the seat is always there and he can be re-elected again if those that supported him truly believe he is the best person for the position. And if not, he will remain a senator like he was in the 7th Assembly. Is it a must that he become Senate President?”Shortly after the Supreme Court judgement, Mr. Saraki announced his disappointment with the ruling.
Against this background, Mr. Marafa condemned the Senate President whom he accused of having no respect for the apex court as the chief lawmaker of the country.
Mr. Marafa (APC-Zamfara State), was also questioned on his statement that “Saraki should go before he’s disgraced out”, and asked if there were moves by his caucus to remove the senate president.
“I am sure you know there’s something called national pride?” he said in response. “How do you feel to see your number 3 man being docked for corruption charges?”
“He has done a lot of damage to the Senate from the forgery of Senate rules to the illegal composition of the committees.
“The Senate should lead by example. Nobody has the right to increase number of the committees. But Saraki just woke up one day to increase them to 65 to satisfy those that made him.
“When I raised it, he said he noted it. We are still noting it till today. The committees are illegal.”
When his reaction was sought, Mr. Saraki’s media assistant, Bankole Omishore, said questions should be directed to the Like Minds caucus, a pro-Saraki group of lawmakers.
In his reaction, Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi State), who speaks for Like Minds caucus, attacked Mr. Marafa and said there was no case for resignation.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has counseled the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to resign his position in order to preserve the integrity of the National Assembly.
He was quoted in a report as saying that he hailed the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court positing that it would add value to the battle against corruption.
Citing an instance involving a former Senate President, the late Chuba Okadigbo, Falana, who recently had a spat with former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, asked Saraki to resign having undertaken to prove his innocence before the CCT.
“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,” he said.
“When Senators Chuba Okadigbo and Adolphus Wabara were indicted they were made to step down as senate presidents.”
The Supreme Court had on Friday dismissed the appeal by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, challenging the validity of his trial on charges of assets declaration preferred against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Saraki, who said the Supreme Court judgment was disappointing, however, said he would have his day in court and that “at the end of the day, truth will prevail and justice will be served.”