A lawmaker has asked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to resign while he faces his corruption trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
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 Saturday night in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
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, Saturday night, 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 country’s law says he’s presumed innocent until proven to 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.
“By reason of omission or commission, Saraki has pushed himself to a position of disadvantage. By moving from one court to the other up to the Supreme and got himself knocked out, what it portrays is that the Senate under Senator Saraki is fast losing credibility.
“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.
“Marafa is a clown and perhaps lives on cheap drugs,” he said.
“The case at the CCT is not about Saraki; rather, it’s about the Senate. And we will not fold our arms to mess up with the Senate.
“The Senate is stable and Saraki has the support of most of the Senators.”