By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Henry Umoru & Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA — The All Progressives Congress, APC, has affirmed that Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, were not above arrest as it yesterday described concerns by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on the issue as hogwash.
The assertion by the APC came amid fresh tension of new plots by APC senators working in cahoots with the national leadership of the party to forcibly remove the two Senate presiding officers from office.
APC senators were last night huddled in a meeting in the Asokoro, Abuja, private office of a prominent chieftain of the ruling party where strategies to deploy towards that direction were allegedly being formulated.
In the light of the reported schemes, plans by the National Assembly to reconvene to consider the budget for the 2019 election as proposed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Vanguard learned, have now been put on hold.
The APC’s response on fears concerning the arrest of Saraki and Ekweremadu followed the PDP’s claims of alleged plots by the APC and security agencies to arrest the duo to effect a change in the leadership of the Senate.
“Apart from plots to arrest and detain Saraki and Ekweremadu, the PDP has also been made aware of plans to use the EFCC and security forces to clamp down on their family members, including their wives and siblings as well as close associates, all in the effort to weaken their resolve,” read a statement issued by the PDP spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Sunday.
Responding to the claim through a statement issued by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, the ruling party said it had thought that by now, “the PDP would be tired of its lame opposition strategy of false alarms, baseless and frivolous accusations.”
The APC, however, added that both men were not above arrest should they be found to run foul of the law at any time.
“The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in its latest round of bogus claims has alleged that the Federal Government plans to arrest the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu,” the APC deposed.
He said President Buhari’s administration has repeatedly demonstrated its strict adherence to the rule of law, saying the alleged plan to arrest or harass the mentioned leaders was pure hogwash.
“Clear conscience fears no accusation. Why are PDP leaders afraid of arrest if their conscience is clear? All law-abiding citizens or residents of the country have nothing to fear about arrest.
‘’However, nobody, no matter how highly placed, will escape the full wrath of the law if he or she runs foul of our laws.
“If the Senate President and the tree-climbing Senator are facing criminal charges in our law courts and his deputy has explanations to make to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for acquisition of numerous properties in Nigeria and abroad through questionable sources, the President Buhari-led APC administration has nothing to do with them,” he added.
Against the background of the tension, especially in the Senate, the prospects of the two chambers reconvening to consider the budget proposals of INEC have been dashed.
The tensions were not helped by reports of some APC senators meeting in the private office of a very prominent chieftain of the party in the Asokoro, Abuja area of Abuja last night.
The meeting scheduled for 8.00pm was yet to commence at press time yesterday. However, sources revealed that the meeting was earmarked to launch a final assault that would remove Saraki and Ekweremadu from office.
As at last night, the Clerk of the National Assembly, CNA, Mr. Sani Omolori, had not officially communicated the lawmakers in line with the Senate Standing Orders.
“It is not possible to reconvene because I can tell you that it is past 5 p.m. and I am leaving the office. There is no circular to that effect, there must be communication from the office of the CNA for them to reconvene and that has not be done,” a legislative staff said yesterday.
Even more, Mr. Omolori, the Clerk of the National Assembly was yesterday set to embark on a trip to Saudi Arabia for the hajj.
Still on the proposal, the source said: “The request by President Muhammadu Buhari is not just a single line item that would just require a one day sitting.
‘’The request has variety of committees that would be involved, including Appropriations, Finance, INEC and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Another source said: “Besides, there is another issue that has to do with the Constituency projects. The letter is requesting the lawmakers to remove funds from their constituency projects and use the same to fund INEC.
‘’Remember that the constituency projects are not one line items in the budget. You can’t imagine how long it would take the Appropriations Committees to sort out that issue with the MDAs.’’
Misau on siege to NASS
Meanwhile, Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Isa Hamma Misau, has flayed the Presidency for pushing the narrative that Senator Saraki conspired with the nation’s security services to stage last Tuesday’s siege to the National Assembly.
Reacting to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) statement that debunked the allegations credited to the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Political Affairs), Babafemi Ojudu, that the EFCC was working in tandem with Saraki, Misau said both the APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and Ojudu, were spinning the same conspiracy theory to hide the lack of coordination and discipline among the security agencies.
“The EFCC’s statement confirms our immediate reaction that both Ojudu and Oshiomhole have been reading from the same conspiracy script.
“Nigerians find it unthinkable that Magu, that the Senate refused to confirm, whose EFCC has also prosecuted Saraki for over 3 years at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), would now turn around and start working for this same Saraki. How is this possible?
“These people think that they can just wake up, think up conspiracy theories and try to sell it to Nigerians, but the public is smarter and more discerning than their shallow fictitious narratives,” the Senator stated.
Misau also stated that the APC and Ojudu should be ashamed of indicting the Presidency in such an explicit fashion.
“In any case, shouldn’t they be ashamed to even claim that the entire internal security institutions in the country are working for someone else other than the person that appointed them?
“Additionally, at what point did they decipher this? Was it before the siege to the National Assembly or after?
“What this goes to show is that in their desperate bid to blame someone else for their crime and incompetence, these people no longer have a sense of shame,” the Senator said.
Misau further amplified the call for an independent judicial panel of inquiry into the National Assembly siege, stating that any other investigation would be seen as biased and flawed in the eyes of Nigerians and the international community.
“In this regard, we hereby reiterate the call for independent judicial panel of inquiry into the invasion. Any other such investigation into the matter would constitute another attempt by these same people to present a biased perspective to the assault on our nation’s democracy and its highest lawmaking body,” Misau stated.