Ripples Nigeria has reliably gathered that very close associates of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, are mobilizing a whopping sum of $2m to settle the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar, and have him compromise the case in the alleged false declaration of assets of their principal.
Details of the alleged plot began to emerge late Wednesday evening when a very prominent traditional ruler and retired banker from Kano reached out to Umar, through his emissaries, with the said promise of $2m cash.
Panic within the Saraki camp set in when it became obvious that despite the withdrawal of Justice Abdukadir-Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja from the case, the trial was billed to resume shortly with the appointment of another Judge.
The said Justice Kafarati had been accused by some sections of the Nigerian media of having dubious antecedents.
In disqualifying himself, the legal luminary said, “If I grant the prayers of the applicant, the reading public will say yes, the judge has been compromised. If I refuse the prayers, they will say the judge has been threatened or intimidated.
“The most honourable thing for me to do is to disqualify myself from this case. I hereby disqualify myself from this case and the file is returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment.”
Critics, however, believe that Justice Kafarati’s action may be part of an extended plot to buy time for the accused while hoping that a political solution would be found to the saga.
The Senate President’s anxiety had been further heightened by the decisions of the caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which met late Tuesday and resolved, amongst others, to pursue party discipline to a logical conclusion.
The APC leadership was upset by the several ‘acts of sabotage’ allegedly inflicted on the party by certain ‘dissidents’ led by Dr Saraki. The Presidency was even more piqued that the National Assembly under the watch of Saraki could frustrate passage of the 2016 budget and rubbish the party’s tenuous claim to prosecuting an anti-corruption war.
Read also: Senate pass 2016 budget
Feelers that the noose was further tightening around Dr Saraki, and that he needed to act fast, also came from the gathering of pro and anti-Saraki Senators. The Unity Forum, a group of Senators opposed to Saraki had met with the Like Minds, a pro-Saraki group earlier in the week in what seemed a fence-mending exercise.
The meeting, rather than shore up the Senate President’s defenses, created an even bigger worry as the attendees used the forum to strategise on how not to lose the exalted seat to the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, a stalwart of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
While the alleged attempt to compromise Justice Umar with $2m by Dr Bukola’s acolytes is seen as very weighty, the move is observed by many as a race in futility as the forces massed against the Senate President are determined to see him fall.
With the panic mood fully activated, Dr Saraki’s associates will also have to contend with the fact that Justice Umar does not sit alone at the CCT. Two more Justices sit in judgment, a factor that would require them to shop for more money if they hope to stall the trial through the back door.
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