In their separate reactions, the Senators who were however shocked that the present scenario could happen in Nigeria especially coming some months after Nigerians eagerly voted for change to engender rapid socio-economic development and good governance at all levels.
The Nigeria Senate President, Bukola Saraki is presently facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT following a 13- count charge levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, bordering on alleged corruption and false declaration of assets in 2003 and summoned him to appear before it on Friday.
But the President of the Senate through his lawyers, approached a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday to secure an exparte order to stop the tribunal proceedings. His Counsels actually got a ruling, summoning the Code of Code Bureau ( CCB), the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Saraki himself to appear before it on Monday for hearing of the suit.
However, ignoring the order, the Code of Conduct Tribunal went ahead with Saraki’s trial, thereby resulting in the tribunal Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar ruling that no federal high court has any jurisdiction to stop the tribunal’s proceedings, claiming that Federal High Court and the Tribunal have coordinate jurisdiction.
The judge later issued warrant of arrest on Saraki for refusing to appear before it after two days of notification to that effect, just as Saraki’s counsels quickly moved to file an appeal against the ruling at the Federal Court of Appeal Abuja the same Friday
Commenting on the development, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, PDP, Ebonyi South noted that the current travail of the President of the Senate was an indication that the APC has no programme of governance for the country but to use state apparatus to witch-hunt perceived political enemies, adding that the Code of Conduct Tribunal was treating Nigeria to a “new form of Constitution”, whereby a deputy director instead of the Attorney-General of the Federation was the one that took Saraki to court.
Describing Saraki’s treatment as politically motivated, Senator Ogbuoji noted that those behind the saga were not fighting for the growth of democracy, but for their selfish interest, which he said was to the detriment of the country.
When asked whether he would advise the President of the Senate to resign in view of the dimension his opponents had taken to fight him, Senator Ogbuoji
who noted that there was no basis for anyone to demand for Sarak’s resignation, stressed that even if Saraki was eventually arrested and arraigned before the court, that would not remove him from his seat as the President of the Senate, adding that such would only be seen as a judicial process.
He said, “resign for what reason, what is his offence? Something that happened in 2003 and nobody talked about it, why is it coming up now?
“What is happening to the President of the Senate is political, to the extent that even the blind can see it very well. They are going about it the wrong way. It is interesting to see that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is treating Nigeria to a new form of constitution. It is obvious that it is the Attorney-General of the Federation that can take somebody to court but in this case, we see a deputy director taking the President of the Senate to court.
“Remember that the Federal High Court, Abuja had sought judicial interpretation on the matter but the Code of Conduct Tribunal defied the court order and issued a warrant of arrest. This means that the President of the Senate is facing judicial anarchy, and this is not good for our democracy.
Exenorating President Muhammadu Buhari from the matter, he however blamed the crisis on overzealous politicians acting for their selfish interest, adding, “What is happening has shown that APC has no programme of governance. They only want to lead us to anarchy by the way they are going. I keep exonerating Buhari from all these things. I believe that some overzealous persons may be doing this without his consent. But you know, as the President of the country, people will say that he is responsible for what is happening. But I don’t personally want to believe that he is the one doing it.”
Also speaking on the development, Senator Joshua Dariye (PDP, Plateau Central) who warned that the unfolding scenario was not a good development, however suggested that the best way to handle the matter was for the warring factions to go for dialogue and resolve their differences, since the recent action against Saraki was still a fallout of the outcome of the formation of the leadership of the 8th Senate.
He said, “it is not a good development. Dialogue is the key to any success; so let them go into dialogue and settle their differences. If we are in disarray, we cannot develop the country. Since they are in the same party, they know how to resolve the matter. Moreover, as a Senate, we have to come together and resolve whatever is tearing us apart, so that we can unite and work for the development of this country.”
Meanwhile, Senators have kept mum since the matter came up, even as the Chairman, Ad- hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West has failed to issue an official statement from the Senate, even as Senators called to speak vehemently refused to make comments.
Many serving senators across party lines contacted yesterday for comment on the raging issue declined either by not picking their calls or not responding to text messages sent to them.
For instance, when calls were made to the telephone lines of Senators Shehu Sani; Babajide Omoworare; Bukar Abba Ibrahim; Shabba Lafiaji; Dino Melaye; Kabir Marafa; Alu Ndume; Ahmed Lawan; Suleiman Hunkuyi Olaka Nwogu, Sam Egwu; Emmanuel Bwacha; Biodun Olujimi, among others, did not pick and the same people did not respond to the sms sent to them on the issue.