•As peace talks breaks down
The peace talks to end the leadership crisis in the Senate appears to have collapsed following the decision of the Unity Forum to challenge in court the June 9 election of Dr. Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Chief Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.
Some members of the forum are praying a court in Abuja to nullify the elections of Saraki and Ekweremadu.
But the Like Minds backing Saraki hurriedly convened yesterday in Abuja to assess the situation and launch counter-legal attacks if they are joined.
The Saraki loyalists, who were caught unawares, were still meeting at press time.
Members of the Unity Forum are said to be angry at what they see as the hard line position of the Saraki group against the directive of the APC leadership on the sharing of principal positions in the chamber.
Their decision to go to court is hinged on alleged lack of quorum in the chamber on June 9 when Saraki and Ekweremadu were elected and the use of alleged forged 2015 Senate Standing Orders (Amended) to conduct the election.
Although the Police who investigated the alleged forgery are expected to release their report this week, the Unity Forum opted for legal redress irrespective of the outcome.
A top member of the Unity Forum said: “We have decided to seek legal redress to contest the validity of the election of the Senate President and his deputy based on forged Standing Orders.
“We want to lay all the cards on the table before the court. If at the end of the day, the court affirms the validity of the Standing Orders and the election of the Principal Officers, we will abide by such judicial pronouncement.
“We have discovered that the Like Minds are not ready to yield ground despite the intervention of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a panel raised by the APC Governors Forum.”
“Is it not better to follow the rule of law than impunity? The management of the National Assembly is expected to tell the court how it came about the forged Standing Orders,” the source said in response to a question.
The Like Minds behind Saraki launched into a meeting last night in Abuja to review the situation, while leaving the Clerk to the National Assembly and his team to handle the legal aspect of the matter.
“Saraki had nothing to do with the Standing Orders whether legal or forged. It is the business of the Clerk to the National Assembly to handle,” a source in The Like Minds said.
It was not immediately clear if the two warring groups would return to the negotiation table this week.
The APC Governors Forum Committee on the crisis in the Senate is being coordinated by Governors Atiku Bagudu and Adams Oshiomhole.
A source close to the committee said: “The governors are expected to meet Saraki and Lawan after the Eid-el Fitr break. The resumption of negotiation was one of the reasons why the National Assembly fixed July 28 for Senators to return from recess.
“If members of the Unity Forum have gone to court, it means they have expanded the scope of negotiation. We can resolve everything with cooperation from all parties to the crisis.
“The issue is how to respect party supremacy and abide by the directive of APC on the choice of principal officers.”
The APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on June 23 sent the party’s position to Saraki.
The June 23 letter to Saraki, referenced APC/NHDQ/NAM/01/015/05, said: “Please find below for your necessary action names of principal officers approved by the party, after excessive consultations for the 8th Senate as follows: Sen.Ahmed Lawan (Majority Leader)—North-East; Prof. Sola Adeyeye (Chief Whip)—South-West; Sen. George Akume (Deputy Majority Leader)—North-Central; and Sen. Abu Ibrahim(Deputy Chief Whip)—North-West.