By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Hundreds of supporters of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki trooped out in Ilorin, capital of Kwara state, on Friday in wild jubilation over the verdict by the Supreme Court which dismissed allegations of false assert declaration against him.
This is even as Ilorin emirate community under the leadership of the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari offered special prayers to show their gratitude to God over the verdict.
The special prayers, led by the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheik Muhammad Bashir were offered immediately after the jummat service at the Ilorin central mosque.
Bashir prayed Allah to continue to guide and protect Saraki and elevate him in all ramifications.
Women and youths, who are ardent followers of the Senate President, had besieged the Emir’s palace soon after news of the verdict by the apex court filtered into town to celebrate the victory with the monarch.
Speaking with newsmen, a leader of the youth groups, Alhaji Abdulfatai Solagberu said the youths were overwhelmed by the victory which has finally absolved Saraki of any wrongdoing regarding the declaration of his assets.
He said the youths couldn’t have done less because of the passion the Senate President has for their growth and development. He recalled how Saraki has consistently empowered many youths and gave jobs, both at federal and state levels to many of them.
Solagberu thanked the judiciary for being an unbiased umpire, saying the apex court’s verdict has shown that the judiciary is indeed the last hope of the common man.
Also speaking, the leader of Kwara market women, Alhaja Nike Lambe thanked the Emir and men of goodwill whom she noted stood with Saraki all through his ordeal.
She assured the Senate President of the continued support of Kwara women, saying that Saraki had empowered many women through his numerous empowerment schemes since his first election as Kwara state governor in 2003.
Responding, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim- Sulu- Gambari hailed the Supreme Court’s verdict.
He thanked the jubilating crowd for their show of love and affection for Saraki who he described as ” my beloved son”.
The frontline monarch said he was proud of Saraki’s achievements as governor and Senate President.
He prayed Allah to elevate him in his political career and grant him sound health and long life.
In the same vein, Kwara state governor, Alh Abdulfatah Ahmed also hailed the Supreme Court verdict.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahab Oba described the apex court as a bastion of democracy in the country.
According to the governor, “the apex court’s judgment has reinforced the belief that the judiciary remains the hope of the common man”.
“What the Judgment has done is to re-energize the common man’s hope and belief in the judiciary. It is the only hope for a better and free Nigeria”, the governor said.
Ahmed explained further that the judgement had vindicated the Senate President as a trustworthy and patriotic Nigerian that would do everything necessary to carry the country to an enviable height.
He recalled that till the trial lasted, Saraki was unperturbed, unshaken and remained committed to providing purposeful leadership as the Chairman of the National Assembly, praising him for weathering the storm of legal battle for the last three years.
“The judgement is a watershed in political journey of the President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria and will lay to rest his political persecution”.
The Governor congratulated the Senate President for the victory and urged him to continue to work to strengthen the country’s legal process as well as democratic norms.
In his own reaction, Speaker of the state’s house of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad asked Saraki’s persecutors to await God’s judgment .
Text of a statement he personally signed reads: “The Supreme Court today affirmed what Kwarans have always contended that the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, CON is completely innocent of all the charges and slanders that the Buhari Administration has been slamming on him since 2015. We thank the judiciary for withstanding all pressures and standing by the truth and the weak.
“Because he is innocent, the trial court, Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have discharged and acquitted him. Saraki is probably the first politician in the world that is vilified the most by his own political party. We were led to believe that Saraki was going through a fair, run-of-the-mill trial superintended by people with integrity. It was a hoax. Valuable man hour and stupendous amount of public funds were wasted on what the Supreme Court referred to as a “forensic somersault”.
“During the similar case of FRN V. Tinubu, the then Jonathan Administration never appealed the acquittal of the defendant, despite the fact that he was in an opposition political party. Also, the fact that the courts threw out the charges against Saraki unanimously based only on his no-case submission and before he opened his defence shows that the trial was done in bad faith.
“Being an administration that constantly employs the criminal justice system to fight political battles, we will not be naïve to believe that the success at the Supreme Court will end all persecution, blackmail and intimidation of the Senate President by people who desperately want only one thing: to exterminate his political career for no just cause.
“But Allah that has stood by his side will continue to do so all the way, believing in the Holy Quran that “Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah extinguishes it”. And to them, as a persecuted Northerner will retort, “Allah ya isa”.
Also, the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Kwara state in a press statement by its publicity state secretary, Alhaji Sulyman Buhari, described the judgment as victory for democracy and landmark verdict on the incorruptible credentials of the Senate President.
His words: “We received with excitement the news that a five -man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad unanimously dismissed the remaining three counts and declared the evidence led by the prosecution as hearsay.
“Kwara APC wishes to declare that the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court is consistent with the belief and expectation of the Kwara State chapter of our party.
“We recall that the torturous political persecution of our leader, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki began in 2015 because he dared to contest for the position of Senate President against the desires of some political leaders in the All Progressives Congress. All manners of extra-judicial strategies and unconstitutional measures were deployed to humiliate and remove the Senate President from office. We thank Almighty Allah for his victory and we congratulate the Senate President for this hard-won victory.
“Importantly, we will not forget to acknowledge the fact that the judiciary demonstrated its independence and capacity to exercise uprightness and forthrightness when politicians attempted to manipulate the Court to settle political scores.
“During the course of the political persecution, Kwara APC once had reasons to declare that no political party ever survived war waged against itself. Indeed, It is now clear that the bond of unity and cohesion in the APC has been weakened, damaged, fractured and severed.
“As a party, our deepest gratitude goes to Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the entire institution of the National Assembly for standing firmly with the Senate President while the political persecution lasted. We also commend all lovers of democracy and believers of rule of law for standing on the side of rule of law and democracy during the political persecution period.
“Finally, as a party, we wish to reiterate our unconditional loyalty to the leadership of the Senate President.”