-They are all involved in one way or the other with the allegation that has befallen their leader’
-List of the 39 APC and 44 PDP senators who got behind Saraki amid CCB trial
In a rallying show of support for their leader amid raging controversy, 83 senators (representing roughly 77 percent of the Senate) passed a Vote of Confidence on its leadership led by Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki on resumption of plenary on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, following its annual recess.
The Senators passed the Vote of Confidence after Senator David Umaru of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who represents Niger East moved the motion which was seconded by former governor of Zamfara State and Senator representing Zamfara West, Ahmed Sani (also of the APC) and overwhelmingly supported by 82 others.
It was not all smooth sailing, however, as Senator Babajide Omoworare (of Osun East) who chairs the Senate Committee on Rules and Business raised that he would like to withdraw his name from the list, while Senator Kabiru Marafa disrupted proceedings till he walked out of the Floor with Senators debating the motion subsequently passed with the support of those present.
Saraki awaits the resumption of his suit at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) sitting in Abuja on October 21.
In sharp, stinging and no holds barred reactions, lawyers have expressed their thoughts on the ongoing saga which has put the spotlight on the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government.
‘He’s a victim of his own ambition’ – John Itodo, Legal Practitioner
How do you react to the trial of Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and vote of confidence passed by 83 senators?
Senator Saraki is a victim of his own ambition. Everyone’s got the right to aim for the highest achievable goal(s), howbeit, it most times comes at great price. I kid you not, if Senator Saraki had queued and aligned his political ambition to the whims of his political party and allowed party supremacy (whatever that phrase means) to prevail, he probably would have been an anonymous Senator.
Today, he’s standing trial for the ‘sins’ he is alleged to have committed over a decade ago, which he probably has even forgotten about. That, however, is the cool thing about our criminal jurisprudence, there is no time bar for prosecuting a person alleged to have infracted the law, so, all the hue and cry about his prosecution at the CCT and the question of where has CCB been all these years and how many more persons are in the same ‘distress boat’ as Senator Saraki that CCB is yet to go after though germane are irrelevant in our criminal jurisprudence. What is legally relevant is, can the prosecution prove beyond reasonable doubt its allegations (charges) against him? That is the only relevant consideration and not the issue of political witch hunt, victimization, etc that are peddled around.
Because Nigeria is a country that prides herself in the Rule of Law, which has as one of its tenets ‘equality before the law’, then to my mind there is absolutely nothing wrong or magical in a Senator or any person who has held or still holding public office in appearing before the CCB to explain (which is what investigation is all about) any perceived infraction of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)-(the Constitution). Remember, investigation, prosecution and conviction are three separate hurdles the prosecution must hurl in proving its charge, thus investigating a person is not tantmount to conviction or guilt. The prosecutor must prove and establish his guilt, to secure conviction.
I personally would like the CCB, to publicly apologise to Nigerians for also failing in their Constitutional duties as provided in the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution particularly Paragraph 3(b) and (d) to examine declarations by public officers and enforce compliance with the 5th Schedule of the Constitution, especially as Senator Saraki had made several other declarations to the CCB after his first declarations in 2003. Don’t forget he served two terms as Governor of Kwara State and the law mandates him to declare his assets after every 4 years and upon assuming office as a Senator. Remember, he first assumed office as a Senator before becoming the Senate President.
The critical question for CCB is why didn’t it in 2007 after his first term examine Senator Saraki’s asset declaration as imposed on it (the CCB) by Paragraph 3(b) of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution; if it did why didn’t it discover all the infractions it suddenly wants us to applaud it for ‘unearthing’ now; and if it did discover these infractions then, why wait till now to commence prosecuting Senator Saraki? These are very critical questions that I for one think should cause ‘heads’ at the CCB to roll following these ‘revelations’ by this same CCB, this is a national embarassment. It is more pathetic especially as some of the high worth properties said to be recently acquired by Senator Saraki were federal government properties in Ikoyi, Lagos, which he is alleged to have bought from the same federal government (that CCT is part of ), that is now prosecuting him.
If you follow all these, you will probably appreciate why the man, Senator Saraki is crying wolf at his travail at the CCT.
Having said all these, the trial of Senator Saraki is good for the Nigeria of our dream, as it will force our politicians and pubic office holders to refrain from unjust enrichments (that is, if some will not device more sophisticated means of beating the system) and also force government agencies like the CCB to do their jobs; that’s why I insist heads should roll at the CCB (both past and present staff should be made to suffer the consequences of their arrant dereliction of duties. Past staff found culpable should be held to account for tax payers monies they earned as salaries while in services within the period and also should be made to forfeit their pensions moving forward).
The president as part of his fight against corruption should order the immediate examination of all declarations by public office holders from 1999 till date and anyone found culpable should be made to face the music as Senator Saraki.
On the issue of the vote of confidence passed on Senator Saraki by some members of the Senate, that by itself does not absolve Senator Saraki of his ‘sins’, neither is it in my view an endorsement of those ‘sins’ by the Senators who voted in favour of the motion.
What vote of confidence simply means is that ‘you are fit’ to continue, that’s all. Don’t forget, the Senate has no power to convict Senator Saraki of the alleged ‘sins’, only a court or Tribunal of competent jurisdiction can, and he is presumed innocent until he’s proved guilty. Given these circumstances, it is therefore petty of any informed mind to see the vote of confidence passed as an endorsement of his ‘sins’. What they have done is to say, Sir, while your trial at the CCT progresses, we consider you fit to lead the Senate pending the outcome of the matter before the CCT; to do otherwise would be a usurping judicial powers and to convict the man before a competent court has the opportunity of doing so, and what then happens if the prosecution fails to secure a conviction and Senator Saraki is discharged and acquitted of the charges against him at the end of the day?
Let me quickly address the call for his resignation, I think that would be naive. I say naive for the following reasons: an allegation, no matter how grave or weighty, remains that. It is not the same as conviction or pronouncement of guilt. The body with the constitutional competence to pronounce guilt is a court or Tribunal of competent jurisdiction. Otherwise, once I don’t like your face, all I need to do is to poke a corruption charge on you and then ask you to resign. Resignation from public office on allegation of corruption or infraction of the law is only moral, there is no law that says you must resign once you are alleged to be in violation of the law. Secondly, because resigning is not the constitutional remedy or consequence for criminal charge; and thirdly, because Senator Saraki may at the end of the day be discharged and acquitted of the criminal allegations or charges against him.
‘Prosecutors should get their acts rights’ – Malachy Ugwummadu, Legal Practitioner, Rights Activist
How do you react to the trial of Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and vote of confidence passed by 83 senators?
By the express provision of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, Saraki being the Senate President does not enjoy any immunity from criminal prosecution. Therefore, if there are criminal allegations levelled against him, he should face trial and clear his name if he’s innocent, and also face the consequences if he’s guilty.
The duty of constitutional democracy is to guarantee the rights of individuals not less senate president to defend their positions in a court of law.
A tribunal is created by the constitution, I think it is in the fifth schedule of the constitution. Having been created, it is a court of records, not an inferior court.
That being the case, it has sufficient capacity and grounds to try the accused person. It is an opportunity that Saraki himself has to further demonstrate to the whole world that the government which they have brought to be is one that is poised to liberate this country from corruption.
What is important is that the prosecutors should get their acts rights. It will be a very heavy disappointment to the Nigerian people if, after all the razzmatazz, the man walks out scot-free . It would be commended if on the basis of the accusation he was able to defend his case; but if he would walk away simply because the prosecution could not do a thorough job, then that becomes a very disappointing situation.
Regarding the vote of confidence passed by the senators, nothing else is expected. Those are his political associates. They are all involved in one way or the other with the allegation that has befallen their leader. And so, they would rally around one of them if the tendencies are there to undermine their collective source of livelihood. It is not too surprising. This is why we must insist that the change mantra must begin to be animated and given full effect by conclusively dealing with matters such as this.
Saraki is the de facto and the de jure senate president, his fate will be determined by the outcome of the trial. If he survives it, he remains the senate president, but if he is consumed by it, he cannot occupy that seat.
The 83 Senators who backed Saraki
David Umaru (APC Niger East)
Ali Ndume (APC Borno South)
Godswill Akpabio (PDP Akwa Ibom West)
Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South)
Malam A. Wakil (APC Bauchi South)
Isah Misau (APC Buachi Central)
Emmanuel Paulker (PDP Bayelsa Central)
Ogola Foster (PDP Bayelsa West)
Gershom Bassey (PDP Cross River South)
James Manager (PDP Delta South)
Ahmadu Abubakar (APC Adamawa South)
Joshua Lidani (APC Gombe South
Achoma Nneji (PDP Imo North)
Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central)
Salihu Egye (APC Nasarawa South)
Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP Abia North)
Mohammed Ohiare (APC Kogi Central)
Phillip Gyunka (APC Nasarawa North)
Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa Central)
Samuel Anyanwu (PDP Imo East)
George Sekibo (PDP Rivers East)
Monsurat Sunmonu (APC Oyo Central)
Jeremiah Useni (PDP Plateau South)
Ogba Obinna (PDP Ebonyi Central)
Aliyu Abdullahi (APC Niger North)
Sunny Ogbuoji (PDP Ebonyi South)
Gilbert Nnaji (PDP Enugu East)
Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South)
Phillip Aduda (PDP FCT)
Duro Faseyi (PDP Ekiti North)
Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano South)
Muhammed Aliero (APC Kebbi Central)
Bukar Ibrahim (APC Yobe East)
Abubakar Kyari (APC Borno North)
Rose Oko (PDP Cross River North)
Osinakachuckwu Ideozu (PDP Rivers West)
Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South)
Fatimat Raji-Rasaki (PDP Ekiti Central)
Tijani Kaura (APC Zamfara North)
Sabo Mohammed (APC Jigawa South West)
Danjuma La’ah (PDP Kaduna South)
Mohammed Lafiaji (APC Kwara North)
Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West)
Abdulrahman Abubakar (APC Kogi East)
Bassey Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North)
Olanrewaju Tejuoso (APC 0gun Central)
Buruji Kashamu (PDP Ogun East)
Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South)
Samuel Egwu (PDP Ebonyi North)
David Mark (PDP Benue South)
Aliyu Wammako (APC Sokoto North)
Marafa Abba (APC Taraba Central)
Mohammed Hassan (APC Yobe South)
Utazi Chukwuka (PDP Enugu North)
Francis Alimikhena (APC Edo North)
Emmanuel Bwacha (APC Taraba South)
Joshua Dariye(PDP Plateau Central)
Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra Central)
Murray-Bruce Ben (PDP Bayelsa East)
Binta Garba (APC Adamawa North)
Jang David (PDP Plateau North)
Ighoyota Amuri (PDP Delta Central)
Ibrahim Gobir (APC Sokoto East)
Mohammed Goje (APC Gombe Central)
Ahmed Sani (APC Zamfara West)
Ibrahim Abdullahi (APC Taraba South)
Muhammad Shittu (APC Jigawa North-East)
Andy Uba (PDP Anambra South)
Nelson Effiong (PDP Akwa Ibom South)
Rafiu Ibrahim (APC Kwara South)
Abdul Nyako (APC Adamawa Central)
Theordore Orji (PDP Abia Central)
Olaka Nwogu (PDP Rivers South-East)
Abdullahi Danladi (APC Jigawa North-West)
Yele Omogunwa (APC Ondo South)
Stella Oduah (PDP Anambra North)
Hope Uzodinma (PDP Imo West)
John Enoh (PDP Delta Central)
Peter Nwaboshi (PDP Delta North)
Clifford Odia (PDP Edo Central )
Donald Alasoadura (APC Ondo Central)
Mustapha Sani (APC Niger South)
Gbolahan Dada (APC Ogun West)