There are indications that ten senators elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, have concluded a deal with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to support its candidate for the Senate Presidency when and if the incumbent Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki is forced to resign.
Saraki is standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, over allegations of false declaration of assets.
There had been deafening calls for the Senate President to resign because of his criminal trial at the CCT with some PDP threatening that the opposition party will take over the Senate by producing its president if Saraki is forced out. The embattled Senate President has however refused to heed the various calls for him to resign.
Quoting impeccable sources, Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the 10 diehard pro-Saraki APC senators held a meeting with their PDP counterparts and discussed their next line of action if the Senate President is forced to step down.
According to the report, at the end of the meeting, they agreed that Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu would be put forward to replace Saraki. The 10 APC senators pledged to join hands with the 50 PDP senators to elect Ekweremadu as Saraki’s replacement if it comes to that.
The APC Senators who signed the deal are said to include two Senators from Kwara, one from Kogi, three from Niger, one from Adamawa, one from Sokoto and two Senators from Bauchi State, assuring the PDP senators that if Saraki is forced out, they will stand by them to elect Ekweremadu “no matter what their party does to persuade them.”
They were also said to have vowed that overtures from President Muhammadu Buhari will have no effect on them.
At the moment,the APC maintains a slim majority in the upper chamber of the National Assembly with 58 members while the PDP having 44. There are six vacancies in the Senate with Rivers having three slots, while Kogi, Anambra and Imo have one slot each.
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According to the report, the APC senators’ planned action is as a result of the conviction of the pro-Saraki group that his on-going trial at the CCT is a political witch-hunt orchestrated by the Presidency, citing as evidence the “haughty tenacity” of CCT’s chairman Justice Danladi Umar who last week refused to answer summons to appear before a Senate committee. The senators were said to have planned to order the police to arrest Umar and bring him to the committee, though they said they expected the Presidency to tell the police not to comply with the order even though it is constitutional.
The media office of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, however denied the existence of any deal with the APC Senators.
According to the Media aide to Ekweremadu, Alhaji Ismail Omipidan, there was no bid on the cards.
Omipidan said: “And if there is no such bid, there cannot be any such pact. It’s another hot lie from the pit of hell in the series of futile attempts to divide and rule the Senate, inject bad blood, and polarize the solid support and solidarity, which the Senate President enjoys among his colleagues. Why are some people trying to bury a man who is not dead?
“The Senate President is having his day at the CCT and we have no doubt that the truth will prevail. There should be a limit to propaganda, unless we have tacitly reversed the age-long tenet of justice in a democracy from innocence until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent. Peddlers of such blatant lies are, therefore, authors of confusion and instability and must not be taken seriously,” he said.
Reacting to the report, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said he was not aware of the pact, adding that “we are united and no APC senator will vote against his or her party.
“Mark my words, no APC senator will vote against his party. We are together and we are working for the actualisation of our party campaign promises.
“Do you want to bury a living person alive? Saraki is still in court and his case is still on-going, so all this noise is unnecessary,” he said.
However, a national officer of the PDP, who asked not to be named, said the party was aware of the development and that the PDP would be happy to take over the Senate Presidency.
“We have been in alliance for long because Saraki was a PDP member. When he was in the New PDP, which later merged with other parties to form the APC, we were still with him and him with us, even at the level of his Senate Presidency. So we will be happy to take over the Senate because the APC never wanted to recognise the New PDP in its fold,” he said.
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