Some Senators on Sunday reiterated their “solid and unshakable” support for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, whose corruption trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal commences on Friday.
Mr. Saraki risks losing his seat if found guilty of the false asset declaration by the tribunal in a charge brought against him by the Federal Government.
As his opponents, particularly Kabiru Marafa (APC-Zamfara State), continue to call for his resignation “to save the image of the National Assembly”, there is growing insinuation that Mr. Saraki’s supporters are also searching for a suitable replacement should he lose eventually.
However, on Sunday, five Senators – Lanre Tejuoso (APC-Ogun), Ibrahim Rafiu (APC-Kwara), Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP-Delta), Isa Misau (APC-Bauchi) and Mr. Sabi – issued a joint statement, reiterating loyalty to Mr. Saraki and dismissing insinuation of shopping for his replacement.
They claim they acted on behalf of “overwhelming majority of their colleagues.”
Their statement came in obvious reaction to Sunday’s story published by Punch Newspapers which reported that Mr. Saraki’s supporters were considering choosing a “New PDP” Senator from Kwara State or Nasarawa State as his replacement.
But the five Senators said there was no truth about claims that some Senators were discussing or thinking about Mr. Saraki’s successor “because there is no basis for that.”
They stated that they decided to issue the statement after consulting their colleagues who, the five Senators stated, had been bombarded with calls from their constituents demanding to know the veracity of the claims contained in the Punch story.
“The particular newspaper and their sponsors are simply undermining the judiciary by writing a story to pre-empt the outcome of a judicial process,” they said.
“They are playing God, forgetting that Saraki would not have been Senate President if God Almighty did not wish it. He is the only Senate President who in less than one year had votes of confidence passed by 85 of the 109 Senators. If we have a motion for confidence vote today, we are sure that 90 Senators will endorse the Senate President.
“Let us make it clear, our position remains the same. The case against Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal is not a case of corruption. It is a case of political persecution. Again, he remains innocent until the case has gone through the final floor of the judicial architecture. We have no doubt that the mischief will fail and so we are solidly behind him.
“In the mischievous report aimed at prejudicing the CCT trial, a method typical of detractors who are behind this persecution called prosecution, they sought to present a case of division in the rank of the supporters of the Senate President by mentioning a Senator from Kwara North, without giving the name of the Senator. We have spoken with our colleague from Kwara North, Senator Shaaba Lafiagi and we can say it that he remains a loyal supporter of Dr. Saraki. He also told us he has never heard of any discussion about having a replacement for the Senate President. He further described the news story as mere speculation,” they added.
Stating further, “We want to alert members of the public that this is the typical method that those detractors of the Senate President have employed since the beginning of the case last September. They sponsor stories in some newspapers and online publications to blackmail and prejudice judges, and compel them to take decisions in a predetermined manner. This is another example of the same devious campaign. They think they can achieve outside the Senate what they failed to achieve on the floor of the Senate. They will fail.
“We continue to stand by Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki and nothing will change that”, the Senators said.