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Monday, 8 February 2016

Senators still strongly behind Saraki despite corruption allegation


The Nigerian Senate has rejected calls for the resignation of its president, Bukola Saraki, following Supreme Court ruling that upheld his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
This was disclosed by the Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi, who said he was speaking “on behalf of my colleagues” in a statement on Monday.
He said there was no basis for the Senate President to resign, insisting that Mr. Saraki’s ordeal was politically motivated and not about any anti-corruption fight.
“From the beginning of the trial last September, we have declared that this case is not about any fight against corruption. It is simply a case of political vendetta.
“Our position remains the same. We still believe that the case is politically motivated,” he said.
On this ground, he stressed that “we want to state categorically that there is no basis for the call on the Senate President to resign until after the matter is decided in that final judicial forum. Such a call at this time is premature, mischievous and unwarranted”.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court rejected Mr. Saraki’s appeal against the competence and jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to try him for 13-count charge of false asset declaration slammed on him by the federal government.

The development generated renewed calls on Mr. Saraki to resign as he faces corruption trial, with the Unity Forum, an anti-Saraki group, and Like Minds, a pro-Saraki group squabbling over the subject.
In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, on Sunday, Kabiru Marafa Of Unity Forum, asked Mr Saraki to resign to save the image of the National Assembly but the call was rejected by Dino Melaye of Like Minds caucus who said Mr. Saraki’s trial amounted to a plot to “mess with the National Assembly”.
Giving further reason to reject the call for Mr. Saraki’s resignation, the Senate spokesperson added, “We also noted that the decision of the Supreme Court given last Friday was on preliminary matters arising from the commencement of the trial. The trial proper is yet to begin. And since the fundamental principle in our legal system is that a defendant is deemed innocent until proven guilty, we have decided to patiently observe the proceedings until the case runs its full circle in the nation’s final judicial forum.”
He expressed the support of his colleagues for Mr. Saraki, saying “We stand by him as he goes through the trial at the CCT where we believe he will be able to prove his innocence.”
“We also call on members of the public to ignore the ranting of a few Senators who having failed to get the wish of their sponsors done on the floor of the Senate are now launching media campaign against the leadership of the Senate,” he added.
Mr. Abdullahi said the Senate is stable and focused on “objective consideration and timely passage” of the 2016 budget proposal.
“We also want to say that we will not make any further statement on this case until the matter has been decided in the final judicial forum,” said.

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