Plot To Impeach Saraki Thickens- The Nigerian Pilot
*Senator Lawan's Group revives mobilisation effort.
*EFCC reopens Senate President Probe file.
Indications emerged at the weekend of fresh moves to oust the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki as Chairman of the National Assembly and the countryâ€™s number three citizen, following the Supreme Court judgement, which held on Friday that his trial over alleged falsification of assets declaration while holding sway as governor of Kwara State in 2003 by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, should continue.
The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by Dr Saraki, challenging the validity of his trial on charges of assets declaration preferred against him at the CCT, holding that Sarakiâ€™s ground for challenging the trial lacked merit.
A highly placed source in the office of the National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress, APC told Nigerian Pilot that, following the judgement on Friday that the Senate President should face his trial at the CCT, the hierarchy of the party has reportedly asked the legal adviser to assist the party with professional legal opinion on the likely scenario that would follow, including resignation and impeachment options against the embattled Senate President.
He said that the party is worried because of the criminal charges which Saraki is facing before the CCT. Already, the Senate Unity Forum, headed by Senator Ahmed Lawan are said have perfected the plot for the removal of embattled Saraki, following the verdict of the apex court.
Spokesman of the SUF, Senator Kabir Marafa during the weekend told journalists that the honourable thing for the senate president to do is to resign his seat in other not be disgraced. In the same vein, a highly placed source at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, also told Nigerian Pilot the acting Chairman of the commission has ordered the review of the case file of the senate president on allegations bordering on corruption, money laundering and fraud.
According to the EFCC source, both Saraki and his wife, Toyinâ€™s case files are currently undergoing what he described as â€˜discrete scrutinyâ€™. He further added that as soon as the legal department of the commission gives its final legal opinion on the outcome of the preliminary investigations, if found wanting, he will be called for interactions.
Efforts by our correspondent to reach the spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren to react on the development proved abortive as both his MTN and GLO lines could not get through.. A seven-man panel of the apex court presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, ha unanimously held on Friday that Sarakiâ€™s appeal against the jurisdiction of the trial and competence of the charges, lacked merit.
Justice Walter Onnoghen, who read the lead judgment, held that contrary to Sarakiâ€™s contention, the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal was validly constituted by two members. Justice Onnoghen also held that the tribunal was by the provisions of its enabling laws and the Constitution, conferred with the quasi-criminal jurisdiction and thus could validly issue bench warrant. He thus held that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 was applicable to the proceedings of the tribunal.
He dismissed the allegation by Saraki that he was not properly served with the charges and also held that the charges filed before the CCT before the appointment of the Attorney-General of the Federation were valid. He also noted that there was an attempt by Saraki to intimidate the â€ŽCCT by claiming that it disobeyed the order of a Federal High Court barring it from continuing with the proceedings pending the determination of a suit filed by the Senate President to challenge the trial. â€œI have looked at the records, there is nowhere such orders was made,â€ Justice Onnoghen ruled.
The CJN and other Justices on the panel agreed with the judgment. The rest of the panel members who consented are Justices Tanko Muhammad, Sylvester Ngwuta, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Chima Nweze and Amiru Sanusi. After the judgment, an army of political associates, who attended the proceedings walked out of the court quietly. Following the Supreme Court judgment, it is expected that the CCT will soon issue hearing notice for the continuation of the Senate Presidentâ€™s trial on three counts of false assets declaration.
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