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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Senate forgery: We are not behind Saraki’s woes, says Presidency



The Presidency on Saturday said it did not originate the legal battles currently before the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this on Sunday on media.



Saraki who emerged the President of the Senate against the position of the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress that supported Senator Ahmed Lawan’s candidature is also undergoing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false declaration of assets while he was governor of Kwara State.

Only last week, Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, were taken to the court for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 that was used to inaugurate the Eighth Senate.

Adesina said the Presidency was not responsible for Saraki’s travails.

One of our correspondents had sought to know from the presidential spokesman if Saraki would be spared his legal troubles if he stepped down as President of the Senate.

But Adesina said the issue did not arise since the Presidency did not initiate his legal battle.

“Senator Saraki’s legal battle was not originated by the Presidency in the first place, so this issue does not arise,” he said.

Notwithstanding the Presidency’s position, two presidential aides are part of the 14 witnesses listed by the Federal Government against Saraki and Ekweremadu by the time the trial gets underway on Monday.

Others for trial on Monday are the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, and the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Benedict Efeture.

The two presidential aides listed as witnesses by the Federal Government are the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang; and the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu.
Enang and Ojudu were both members of the Seventh Senate before their current appointments.

In the Senate, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party have ruled out the possibility of fielding any candidate as a replacement for Ekweremadu, in case the court finds him guilty of the forgery case preferred against him and Saraki.

According to a ranking senator from the South-East geopolitical zone the emergence of Ekweremadu as deputy senate president in the first instance made the opposition senators to play along with the administration of Buhari.

He said, “The emergency of Senators Saraki and Ekweremadu, led to the unity we had experienced in the senate and we have, to the best of our knowledge, tried our best to ensure that we support the government in the interest of the nation.

“This Buhari’s government had, times without number, committed great impeachable offences that we overlooked simply because we wanted the nation to move forward. But now that it is obvious that they prefer war. We are also ready for battle.”

Another PDP senator, who is a new comer from the South-South geopolitical zone, told our correspondent that they were already compiling impeachable offences against Buhari, since he was also bent on creating crisis and causing confusion in the federal parliament.

He said, “What the executive is doing by its actions is to cause confusion and create tension in the country and we are ready for them. It is now glaring that the APC does not mean well for this country.

“For instance, is this type of self-inflicted, self-imposed crisis on the country by Buhari, necessary at this time when the country is facing the worst social, economic and political challenges in its history?

“All hands are expected to be on the deck to halt the free fall of the value of naira against major international currencies, tackle the issue of mono import dependent economy, solve the power problem and resolve the crisis in the Niger Delta.

Attempts to get the spokesperson for the senate, to speak on the issue failed as calls put across to his mobile line dropped while text messages sent to him did not connect.

On its part, the House of Representatives said its leadership was awaiting invitation from the Presidency for any meeting that would improve the relationship between the National Assembly and the executive.

It also noted while it had not declared any war against President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, who said this added that lawmakers were in solidarity with the senate because they saw the prosecution of Saraki and Ekweremadu as an attempt to humiliate the National Assembly.

Namdas said, “As a House, we are ready any day to meet with Mr. President. For now, no invitation has come to us to come for either a meeting or dinner; none.
“But, if it comes, we will go to see the President. Any effort that will further enhance our present relationship with the executive, we will support it.

“We are not on the warpath with the President, but this relationship can be better. I want to state here that the issues at stake have to do more with the Senate than the House of Representatives.”

The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has said the party does not interfere in judicial matters.

He said as a party sworn to uphold the rule of law, it would always strive to live above board and not give room for any person or group of persons to doubt its sincerity in this direction.

Odigie -Oyegun said, “I really don’t have anything to tell say on this matter but like I said several times before, as a party, we don’t interfere with  judicial matters.”

But another highly placed member of the APC said only the courts would have a final say on the trial of Saraki and Ekweremadu.

The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “I am afraid the time for a political solution has passed, the matter has gone to court.

“This issue is no longer within the purview of the party. If you remember, before this whole thing started, the party tried to ensure that things went on smoothly. If things were done properly, there would have been no need for anyone to forge any document as alleged.

“The issue of this alleged forgery was not there then. But now, the case of forgery, which is a criminal offence, is there, so, you can’t be talking of a political solution at this stage. You can’t even suggest that kind of thing to the President.

“If you remember, under President (Olusegun) Obasanjo, a Senate President resigned based on an allegation of corruption, did it stop his prosecution?”

When contacted, the Special Adviser to the senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he would not react to the matter.

He said, “I don’t have any reaction to that.”

Meanwhile, the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang has said the Presidency has chosen to work more and speak less as it seeks the cooperation of senators.

Enang said, “We are reaching out. We have decided to speak less and work more and speaking about it in the media will not helpful at this point.”

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