The Federal Government on Thursday, filed a motion to drop the criminal conspiracy and forgery charges of Senate Standing Order against the Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
The withdrawal of the suit was filed by a litigation officer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Odubu Loveme, who filed an affidavit in support of the motion before the High Court of Federal Capital Territory.
What some Nigerians may not be privy to are the intrigues and compromises that led to the withdrawal of the suit.
Prior to the inauguration of the 8th Senate, two groups within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged. Unity Forum headed by Senator Barnabas Gemade, backed the Senate presidency bid of Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe state.
The other ‘rebel’ group, Like Minds, was headed by Senator Dino Melaye. The lawmakers rooted for Saraki who was considered the underdog. While Unity Forum secured the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari, the national working committee of APC, as well as key leaders of the party, Like Minds on the other hand, entered into a deal with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the end, Saraki emerged winner and Ekweremadu from the PDP stock, was elected as his deputy. Ekweremadu’s emergence was part of the arrangement reached between the PDP Senate caucus and APC lawmakers loyal to Saraki.
Backed by the presidency and a former governor of Lagos state, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, some aggrieved lawmakers who were favourably disposed to the emergence of Senator Lawan, petitioned the immediate-past Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase.
In the petition, the Senators named Saraki and Ekweremadu as the principal actors behind the forgery of Senate Standing Rules. While investigations were ongoing by the Police, Saraki moved against his party and blatantly jettisoned a list of principal officers sent to him by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, APC national chairman.
Saraki’s action finally gave impetus to the rancor that permeated the Red Chamber for over a year. Saraki again, in October, 2015, announced the composition of the headships of the various standing committees. Unlike the usual practice, he favoured his key allies in the PDP and rewarded them with ‘juicy committees’.
APC Senators who were believed to have worked against his emergence, got ‘dry committees’. Efforts by the leadership of the APC and the presidency to prevail on Saraki, proved abortive. For months, the Senate became a theatre of political war.
In the same month, the Federal Government released the first salvo and dragged Saraki before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged under-declaration of assets when he held sway as governor of Kwara state between 2003 and 2011.
While the drama that followed Saraki’s arraignment lasted, activities in the Senate were grounded. In some instances, the Senate was under lock and key whenever Saraki appeared before CCT to face his false assets declaration trial.
Saraki was still fighting one of the toughest political battles of his life, when plans were in top gear to covertly remove him. Senator Kabiru Marafa from Zamfara state, spearheaded the new offensive. He was backed by other APC lawmakers who held frequent meetings to perfect their plans.
Sensing that the new coup to unseat him may pan out, Saraki set up a committee to reconcile aggrieved lawmakers. Part of the mandates of the committee was to look at the composition of the headships of the various standing committees.
While the committee was yet to submit it’s report, the Federal Government dragged Saraki and Ekweremadu to court one year after they allegedly forged the Senate Standing Rules.
Humbled by the possible outcome of the forgery suit, Saraki hurriedly announced changes in the composition of the committees and appointed his key enemies to head juicy committees.
This tactical move birthed the beginning of what eventually led to the withdrawal of the forgery suit against Saraki and Ekweremadu. It was learnt that Saraki has also agreed in principle, as part of the peace deal, to replace the current Senate Leader, Ali Ndume with Senator Lawan in line with the position of his party, APC.
In the coming weeks, Saraki may make further changes in the composition of the headships of the various standing committees to accommodate more APC lawmakers.
It is however unclear if Saraki’s purported move will anger his allies in the PDP who may be the biggest losers in the end. It is also unclear if the PDP, angered by the ongoing deal, will withdraw their support for Saraki.
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