#PanamaPapers: I won’t resign, Senate President, Bukola Saraki says

Senate President Bukola Saraki

Embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki on Friday said he would not yield to growing calls from Nigerians that he should step down amid growing corruption scandals.

Mr. Saraki said those calling for his resignation were being sponsored by politicians who had always opposed his leadership since he emerged Senate President last June,

He added that his detractors were trying to circumvent the country’s judicial system.

Mr. Saraki was responding to a story published by PREMIUM TIMES earlier today, in which the Transition Monitoring Group lend its voice to a growing call for the Senate President’s ouster.

In a text message sent to our reporter by his Special Adviser on Media, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Mr. Saraki said he was not contemplating resignation.

“There’s a case in the Tribunal and a resultant appeal at the Court of Appeal,” the statement said. “The underlining philosophy of our legal system is that an accused person is presumed innocent until found guilty.”

“Those who are contemplating calls for resignation want to circumvent the judicial system. They are obviously being sponsored by some politicians.

“The Senate President is not contemplating any resignation. He will surely have his day in court.”

Since Mr. Saraki was arraigned by the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the PREMIUM TIMES expose about his secret offshore assets in tax havens, the calls for him to step down have continued to mount.

On Thursday, several activists and other Nigerians openly called on the Senate President to resign. They were joined today by the TMG.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported on Monday that Mr. Saraki failed to disclose four assets found to be in his wife’s name offshore, in violation of Nigeria’s code of conduct law.

That revelation came to light following the leak of a trove of internal data from the Panama-based offshore-provider, Mossack Fonseca, obtained by the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with PREMIUM TIMES and over 100 other media partners in 82 countries.

In his response to that publication, Mr. Saraki said the controversial assets belonged to the estate of his wife’s rich and famous family, and that the law did not mandate him to declare such a category of assets.

But PREMIUM TIMES later found that the assets neither belong to Toyin, his wife, nor to her family’s estate. They are clearly Mr. Saraki’s.

According to the new documents retrieved by PREMIUM TIMES from the massive Mossack Fonseca database, the assets in Toyin’s name are actually held in trust for Mr. Saraki, Nigeria’s third most powerful official.

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