*In meeting with APC leadership
*No official request on withdrawal of Saraki’s CCT case –Presidency
*Opposition parties kick against withdrawal
Senators loyal to the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, were reported to have at a meeting which the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senate caucus had with the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) led by John Odigie-Oyegun demanded the withdrawal of all the legal suits, against him describing the trial as political.
However, the Presidency said it had not received any formal request from the Senate or the party hierarchy in respect for a demand for the withdrawal of all the legal suits against the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, especially the one at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
In addition, the APC senators were reprted to have absolved themselves of the blame over the non-confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Though, the APC senators had told the party leaders that stopping the Senate President’s trial at the CCT would be a perfect way to reconcile the two arms of government.
But when contacted, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the alleged request for the withdrawal of the case only emanated from unofficial sources, hence he would not comment on it.
“Nobody has confirmed officially that such a request was made. The Presidency will, therefore, not react to what is at best a rumour,” the presidential spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, an alternative but unofficial source close to the Presidency said President Muhammadu Buhari would never be involved in withdrawing a case that is in court.
The source added that, he was sure that “nobody would be bold enough to approach President Buhari with such request. I am very sure that President Buhari will never grant such request. This President will never do that.
“I am also very sure that with the President’s posture, nobody or group will be bold enough to approach him with such request. That will never happen.”
Odigie-Oyegun had on Wednesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors inside his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The outcome of the meeting the APC caucus at the Senate had with the party’s NWC was believed to have formed part of the discussion between the two leaders.
The party chairman had earlier joined Buhari at the launching of the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Don’t try to withdraw case against Saraki: In the meantime, some opposition parties have warned the President against withdrawing Dr Bukola Saraki’s CCT case.
The opposition parties which seemingly are reacting to evolving meetings between the APC leadership and some Senators are of the opinion that the Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight is one-sided and selective.
Hence, if the Federal Government goes ahead to drop the Senate President’s CCT charges as demanded by the APC Senate caucus, the parties said President Buhari’s anti-corruption war would be rendered meaningless.
Presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the 2015 election, Chief Martin Onovo, said the party would take on the Federal Government if it ever dropped Dr Bukola Saraki’s CCT charges.
He said should the Federal Government stop the Senate President’s trial, it should also drop all charges against every other person accused of corruption in the on-going anti-corruption war.
He said, “If the Federal Government ever drops Saraki’s CCT charges, they should be ready to drop all corruption charges against every other person accused of corruption. This shows that the people ruling us are fundamentally and philosophically perverted.
“The Constitution forbids discrimination. There should be fairness and equity. The anti-corruption fight has right from time been one-sided or why has the Federal Government not investigated former governors who funded the All Progressives Congress’ elections?
“The charges against Dr Bukola Saraki cannot be withdrawn. If it happens that they are withdrawn to pacify the legislature, we as a party are ready to take them on politically.”
The presidential candidate of KOWA Party in the 2015 election, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, said the request made by the APC Senate caucus that Dr Bukola Saraki’s trial be stopped showed that the present APC government was all about individualism and selfish interests.
She said, “If there are charges against somebody, Nigerians would be interested in getting to the root of the matter. There should be no negotiation. If the President ever considers dropping those charges, it will amount to a flagrant abuse of office and sacrifice of common good for personal interests.”
The Secretary of the Accord Party in Oyo State, Dr. Nureni Adeniran, said if the call for the withdrawal of the case against Dr Bukola Saraki was respected by the Presidency, it would call into question the genuine intention of President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
“The call by the senators questions the seriousness of the President’s anti-corruption fight. They should let the court decide the conclusion of the case,” he said.
The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, also said the law should be allowed to take its course in Dr Bukola Saraki’s CCT trial.
Abdulsalam said it would be tantamount to perversion of justice if the Senators’ request is granted.
“The withdrawal of the case would not be healthy for the anti-graft war,” he added.