Cover Stories, News, People, Politics, Seat of Power

Outrage as Senators pass Vote of Confidence on Saraki

 -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?

John Itodo

John Itodo

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?

Malachy Ugwummadu

Malachy Ugwummadu

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)

Related Stories:



About the Author