As the trial of the Senate president Bukola Saraki enters an advanced stage, there appears to be apprehension and an uneasy calm over the eventual outcome of the case.
Saraki’s trial started on the 10th of March, 2016, the Senator having failed to persuade the Supreme Court to save him from prosecution. Saraki, whose appeal was thrown out by a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court on February 5, is answering a 13-count criminal charge bordering on an alleged false declaration of assets.
The court panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohamed, had in a unanimous judgement maintained that Saraki had a criminal case to answer, even as it upheld an earlier verdict of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which ruled that the Senate President should face prosecution before the CCT.
Saraki was in the charge before the CCT (marked ABT/01/15 and dated September 11, 2015) accused of breaching section 2 of the CCB and Tribunal Act, an offense punishable under section 23(2) of the Act and paragraph 9 of the said Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Beside the allegation that he falsely declared his assets, as well as made anticipatory declaration of assets, Saraki is also alleged to have operated foreign bank accounts while in office. He is alleged to have acquired assets beyond his legitimate earnings as a public officer.
FG, among other offences, alleged that Saraki, claimed that he owned and acquired No 15A and 15B Mc Donald, Ikoyi, Lagos, through his company, Carlisle Properties Limited in 2000, when the said property was actually sold by the Implementation Committee of the Federal Government landed properties in 2006 to his companies, Tiny Tee Limited and Vitti Oil Limited for the aggregate sum of N396, 150, 000, 00.
He is alleged to have made false declaration on or about June 3, 2011, by refusing to declare plot 2A Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, which he acquired between 2007 and 2008 through his company from the Central Bank of Nigeria for a total sum of N325, 000, 000, 00. Saraki is said to have refused to declare No1 Tagnus street, Maitama, Abuja, which he claimed to have acquired in November 1996 from one David Baba Akawu.
However, checks by Daily Sun, have revealed that some aides of the Senate President, as well as chairmen of some ‘juicy committees’, are also under the apprehension that they might be booted out in the event that Saraki is convicted by the CCT.
Although the media office of Saraki, headed by Mr. Olaniyonu Yusuph, has been leading a fresh offensive against perceived enemies of the Senate president, one of the aides who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, said that though no one can predict the outcome of the trial, they were not sure if a reprieve will come from the Presidency or from the national leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Meanwhile, some lawmakers, predominantly from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have debunked claims that there was a fresh plot to oust the indicted lawmaker. His peers said such plans would never work, as they were solidly behind him.
Chairman of the Senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, in an interview with our correspondent, boasted that any plot to remove Saraki will not succeed without the support of lawmakers like himself.
Anyanwu stated: “There is no iota of truth in the claims that the PDP is plotting against Saraki. One thing I know is that some people will never like you no matter what you do to please them.
“On the issue of Saraki, those that have chosen not to like him will never do so. Whenever there is any issue about him, they jump at it. As far as I am concerned, the PDP caucus in the Senate is not plotting anything. There is no plot that can succeed in that Senate without people like us. It will never work,” he said.
Another Senator, representing Edo Central Senatorial District and vice chairman of the Senate committee on Works, Senator Clifford Ordia, said lawmakers, both from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition PDP were behind Saraki.
He said: “I am not aware of any plot to remove Saraki. I do know anything like that. The current position in the Senate is that we are still solidly behind Saraki. Maybe small camps are plotting something, but it will not work. We were with the Senate president in court last Friday. That is to show you that we are with him.”
(Fred Itua, SUN NEWS ONLINE)