The verbal fireworks between civil society groups and the embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, continued on Sunday with the Transition Monitoring Group releasing yet another scathing statement urging Nigerians to remain steadfast in their quest to kick the top lawmaker out of office.
The TMG said it has continued to watch with keen interest as the Senate President reacts to its previous calls for him to step down amid corruption scandals.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by its chairman, Ibrahim Zikirullahi, on Sunday, TMG said Mr. Saraki’s strategy to wait out the public outrage over his alleged false assets declaration trial as well as the new revelations about his ties to offshore businesses in tax havens as contained in the Panama Papers has backfired.
“In the last 48 hours, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has observed closely as heavily tainted Senate President, Bukola Saraki struggles to rationalize his decision to sit-tight in the face of damning revelations from his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the leaked Panama Papers.
“Like a drowning man, Saraki is advertising his willingness to hold on to any straw. Since TMG released its widely circulated statement calling on him to immediately step down on account of damaging effects of his trial on the Senate as an institution, Saraki has cut a pathetic figure.
“His vile calculations that the Nigerian people would soon forget about the revelations, and move on, have boomeranged,” Mr. Zikirullahi said.
Following the commencement of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the PREMIUM TIMES investigations that exposed him as one of the most prominent clients of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak, calls for Mr. Saraki’s resignation have been spearheaded by the Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Muslim Rights Council, MURIC, and other Nigerians.
A defiant Mr. Saraki said in a statement on Saturday that all efforts to stampede him out of office are being orchestrated by his political adversaries, vowing to continue the battle until his case is dispensed by the court of law.
“They believe that the on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal provides them the opportunity to stampede Dr. Saraki out of office so that their defeated objective of getting their lackey into the office of Senate President will be realized. This is another desperate move by these spineless politicians to achieve through the back door what they failed to realize on the floor of the Senate,” his Special Adviser on Media, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said.
But the TMG rejected that position, arguing that Mr. Saraki has resulted to creating imaginary enemies for himself in order to court the sympathy of Nigerians.
“Saraki and his spin doctors are now running from pillar to post in a desperate last ditch effort to silence courageous voices. The result of this pathetic approach to clear questions of accountability, is a streak of hallucination that has led Saraki and his fellow legislooters to create imaginary enemies in order to conflate issues and deflect responsibility,” Mr. Zikirullahi said.
The TMG, therefore, reiterated its position that Mr. Saraki’s time as the President of the Nigerian Senate is up.
“Knowing that shame, contrition and conscience are alien to characters like these, it is not surprising that they continue to defy civilised standards in human conduct. Saraki should make no mistake about it; he is the man in the dock, having to face up to the consequences of his actions.
“Saraki is the one who has to cope with insomnia in this futile battle to erase the truth. He may bluff and bluster as much as he wants; the Nigerian people have made up their mind that his position is no longer tenable. There is no mistaking the fact that he has completely lost legitimacy.
“Like the exposed shell companies he secretly opened in Panama, he is now an empty shell. All his diversionary antics notwithstanding, TMG insists it is time for Saraki to go. That is the verdict of the Nigerian people; in due course, the voices of the people will prevail.”