Saraki urges senators to defend democracy



• Gets vote of confidence again
• To treat ministerial list with dispatch
• Promises vigorous legislation to revive economy
• Dogara urges caution over Senate president’s ordeal

SENATE President Bukola Saraki yesterday, exhorted his colleagues in the upper legislative chamber to join him in the fight against forces he said were working against democracy.

In a reference to his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Saraki said: “We must not be held down by unnecessary politicking. The enormity of our national challenges at this time does not give room for pettiness or politics of vendetta. Distinguished senators, I believe you have all followed with keen interest, my trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. I shall avoid discussing the details of that case here for obvious reasons.

‘‘Meanwhile, I wish to reiterate my remarks before the tribunal, that I have no iota of doubt that I am on trial today because I am the president of the Nigerian Senate, against the wishes of some powerful individuals outside this chambers.

‘‘But what is clear to me also, is that the laws of Nigeria, and the rules of the National Assembly give consideration only to the wishes and desires of those of you who are here today as members of the Senate, to elect as you wish, one of your peers as President of the Senate. This, in your wisdom, is what you have done by electing me to be the first among all of you who are my equals. The laws of Nigeria do not give any consideration to any other forces outside the Senate in the election of its President. And to yield the ground on this note is to be complicit in the subversion of democracy and its core principles of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution. This is why we must once again commend President Muhammadu Buhari, for refusing to interfere in the election of the National Assembly leadership even in the face of enormous pressure on him to do so. He has proven quite concretely that he is indeed a born-again democrat.

‘‘Too many people have fought and died for the democracy that we enjoy today. We would not be honouring them and their memories if we allow the sad chapters of our history to continue to repeat themselves like a bad curse.

‘‘As for me, I am prepared to do my duty in defence of our democracy and in safeguarding the independence of the National Assembly. My duty, as I see it, is to do justice and honour to the memory of those who have paid even higher prices to give us this democracy and this constitution.

‘‘Primarily as a Senator of the Federal Republic and as Senate President, I owe it to this Senate to stand strong in the face of relentless persecution. I invite all of you to stand with me to defend this Senate and preserve its sanctity.

‘‘Ultimately, our legacies would not be defined by how long we stay here and in whatever position; but by what we did with this great opportunity that our people have given us by the grace of Almighty God.‎”

And in a strong show of unequivocal support as if to endorse the position enunciated in his address, the Senators went ahead to pass a vote of confidence in Saraki despite an open protest by Senator Kabiru Marafa of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Zamfara State.

The vote of confidence, the second in two months, came after a motion sponsored by Senator David Umaru (APC, Niger East) and seconded by Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, another APC member from Zamfara State, and co-sponsored by 81 other senators.

Also, the Senate said yesterday it would treat with dispatch, the screening and confirmation of ministers whenever the list of nominees was sent to it by the president, adding, however, that it would not observe the “bow and go” but would allow merit and competence to guide it in the screening exercise.

Marafa, in protesting against the confidence vote said he was unfairly treated by Saraki who he claimed, deliberately refused to identify him after raising his hands several times on the floor to express his opinion on the matter.

On the expected list of ministerial nominees from the President, Saraki said: “I want to urge you all my colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country, informed by the enormity and the urgency of the challenges before us. Once the list is submitted, let us ensure that we treat it with dispatch and thoroughness.”

Also, the Senate said it would review the 2015 budget with a view to making positive impact on the economy.

Saraki had in his speech, said: “The biggest challenge faced by our country today is the state of our economy. The dwindling oil revenue has brought enormous shock to our economy and greatly limited the capacity of government at various levels to meet even basic commitments. We must think hard and work hard with the Executive to achieve greater clarity in policy direction and interventions. We shall therefore commence immediately, a review of the 2015 budget and begin now to lay down the fundamental principles that would determine the 2016 budget and the philosophy of our economy in times like this.

In another development, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has commended the decision of the Senate President to submit himself to the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal in recognition that no person is above the law.

Addressing the House at the resumption of plenary yesterday, the Speaker urged the government to be circumspect in the arraignment of the Senate President in order to maintain proper focus in pursuit of the common good.

He commended the maturity exhibited by members in the unfolding saga, a development he said has helped to avoid further escalation of the matter through media commentaries.

“We commend and fully support the effort of government towards sanitising the polity through the war against corruption, impunity and other vices. As legislators with the mandate of making as well as reforming the law, we expect that these institutions, which are the creation of these laws, would prove their capacity for fairness, justice and strict adherence to the rule of law in order not to endanger our democracy. I am confident that our justice system has the capacity to do justice to all citizens,” Dogara said.

Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

  • Senate President enough of this noise, we are talking about question of integrity, yes you are very innocent until prove guilty , you yourself this will never happen advance country, for the fact that you are have accused and taking to court is enough for you to resign .

    • As it is

      Wrong postulation. Being accused,remember the word “accused” and charged to court is not enough ground for resignation.
      CCT,CCB are arms of the executive, Senate is an arm of the legislature. Both are different, seperate arms of govt. Have you ever thought if the constitution made provisions for another CCB under the legislative arm. Our construction is not perfect? Imagine what will happen if the executive and the legislature each has its own “code of conduct bureau “?

      • crisdels

        I guess many years out of college and age are telling on my little political science grasp. I should have tried a little research before making this comment. It beats me to begin to imagine that the CCT presided by a judge is an arm of the executive. I would have bet my all that The CCT is under Judiciary, not Executive. How can the same CCB that administered oath to President Buhari be under him? There’s no sensible reason behind this. Hey fellow, which constitution says this? Help!!!

        • omo56

          You are being academic, the real question to me is how can Saraki lead a fight against corruption while defending himself against the charges leveled at him?

          What happens if the court date for his appearance should coincide with senate’s fight against corruption?

          I can imagine him putting the business of the senate on hold to appear in court to defend himself

          The least we can do is to settle down and enjoy the up coming show

          • crisdels

            How can Saraki lead fight against corruption? He is not qualified to lead a fight against corruption because himself is very corrupt. I don’t like him. Where he is now, if you want to get rid of him, do it the uncorrupt way. We placed him there and we too can remove him but not in this childish, unethical style. That’s where I belong.
            Now, how can Saraki discharge his Senate duties if the duties conflict with court date? In my opinion such conflict will be impossible because he is paying those lawyers that can arrange dates with the tribunal judge. The courts accommodate that. Please this is my opinion. Thanks for reaching me.

          • omo56

            As I stated earlier, things are so bad that the only things left to do is to pray for our country and also enjoy the show

            It will be a good old fashion fight to death,I mean political death

    • Cjay Emmany

      Are you trying to say that a political office holder should just resign even when accused wrongly? That’s illogical to me cos anybody could just wake up and accuse a politician just to make them resign.

      • omo56

        The real question is how can he, Saraki, fight these charges against him at the same time lead the senate in fighting corruption?

  • Very eloquently put, Mr Senate President!. By the bizarre passing of vote of confidence on a leader standing trial for serious criminal misconduct, your fellow Senators are definitely practicing their own brand of democracy, the one Nigerians went to the polls recently to consign to the archives of history. I wish we can give you a one way ticket to go and tell that to the marines!

    • omo56

      He wants a ticket to the presidency

  • aderibgbe48

    Nigerians, let’s put stop to this nosense, that Mr. Saraki should resign now. Mr. Saraki should resign because he was accused? We should think deeply before we post comments online. I am very against Mr. Saraki, but the current allegations are very fishy to me. Yes! He was wrong not to answer tribunal call. His lawyers must be sanctioned for that. But for many people who are calling for his resignation. You are dead-wrong. Remember, accusations, allegations, are not subject to resignation. They only challenge your integrity and might cause one not to perform well on duty-arise. President Clinton was accused, and set for trial but he did not resign as a president. At the end of his trial- he was acquitted.( if you say that is in America- I will quickly answer you that it’s a democracy and law of the land that ” you are not guilty until—) As much, as I don’t like Mr. Saraki. I will say, he is to fight the case to the end. Fellow Nigerians, that is how democracy works. He is not guilty, until——. He is not going to resign-unless the senate force him out of his position as a Senate President. All it takes, is what we witnessed in the house yesterday. I senator can continue to call the house in order in every session and Mr. Saraki is already in trouble for that. Senator Cruiz is a big problem to Senate leader in United States and guess what: The senate President resigned because the man continues to introduce bills over bills and the senate president got tired of him. I senate in the house can force him out of his position. Watch-out. We should remember, he represents his states. He might lost his position as a Senate President- But he will continue to be in Senate- if he wants. I want him to fight this battle—but I think– he is not innocent of the charges. However, he is on trial because he is a senate president- I believed that. Would he have been tried if he is just an ordinary senator in the house? No. Is he going to find guilty of the charges- I will say: Yes. They are going to force him out. You all remember me: I have a dream—–Mr. Saraki will not survive these allegations. He will give up very soon. Watch political 101 as it plays.

    • ubong

      i never liked Saraki, when he betrayed his party voters and defected. He treated them as noboady and this was made possible by the corrupt Judges heading our Judiciary. However, my problem in this case is that its more of political infraction among some self appointed apc leaders to make sure our equally corrupt and inept CCB/CCT is compromised to execute the whims of these self appointed people, one who even have the audacity to order that a senator of the federal republic of nation should be barred from attending further sw apc meetings. This to me goes to show that Saraki arraignment is more of factional infighting among apc that would not berng and positive value to the poor nigerians that voted for development and social amenities provision.

      However, if Saraki is found gulity, which is possible weighing the listed items against him, and probably with the Danladi Umar/members CCT acting as an agent of political witch-hunt institution, he must go only if the process is fair and free from political influences from some self appointed owners of nigeria in apc. Saraki, in his wisdom must also explain how he acquired such vast wealth and nigerians must stand up to demnd from CCB/CCT public displace of all asset declaration forms by all political officer-local councillor to NASS etc. When looking at the speed and important acctahed to Saraki matter and not HArlliburton case that had been in the public domain, it is reasonale to state that this Fulani man-Danladimember led CCB/CCT is very partial and totally comprimised, a clear testamnet to the level of corruption among Nigerians Judges. CCB/CCT should explain to nigerian how OBJ became extremely rich after being released from prison. Saraki, had never be my fan becuase i rated him among 99% of our selfish and greedy thieves calling thmeselves elected public officers.

    • crisdels

      I agree dear that Saraki might capitulate ànd resign in course of the tribunal trials. What his peers did was to give him chance to leave with honor to still remain and count as APC one badly needed vote. But his resignation will do nothing to enhance President Buhari’s anti corruption agenda because it started with questionable premise. If he leaves, has APC purged the “false ” leadership of the Senate? Ekweremadu’s (PDP) factor is gonna be harder pill to swallow if or when Senator Saraki is gone. Saraki will be one APC vote in support of PDP Ekweremadu.
      Well, if his peers really wanna stay strong behind him with this vote of confidence through his travails, boy, I assure you he can beat his charges and still emerge because our legal culture has not the backbone to convict a man as powerful (purse) as this Senate President. Don’t forget that Saraki is Muslim, and a Northerner also.

      • ubong

        Am not someone interested in alphabeth whether APC, PDP, LP etc. You and I are living witness to how governors from all parties deliberately show their wickedness to fellow human being (workers) owing them months of salary thereby subjecting these famiies to unjustified hardship. Nigerian problem is not party but individual greeds. What we are witnessing at moment to saraki goes to show the level of greed among some self appointed apc leaders. They do not care about you and I but their personal gains and positions to loot our resources. we want war against corruption to be holistically fought devoid of party affiliation. At least you and I know 99% of our elected party representatives, past leaders etc from local to federal level can not categorically state that their asset declaration is correct. HArlliburton case is out there in public domain, yet no action probably becuase of names of people involved. Rumours bound everywhere how a former Lagos state governors andd family is alledged to own spatial land and plot and properties in LAgos, acquired during his tenure as civil servant (governor). I hate victimization and i see saraki case as political than CCT doingb what they were created to do, else some of these thieves and rascals calling themselves elected representatives from local to national level would not have been elected or nominated by their partiy/s.

  • Sadiq Garba

    We support Saraki’s call that Senators should defend democracy., This should include
    Honouring court summons (respect for judiciary)
    Non interference on the activities of anti corruption agencies (respect for the executive)
    Making the appropriate laws that’ll enhance the well being of Nigerians (respect for Legislature)

  • Olaniyi Caleb Jimoh

    It is diffcult most time to understand the mind set of some of this so call senator.
    for saraki of all people to say anyting is politically motivated is an insult to the public.if sleepingin the car park is a proper way to seek for the office of senate president
    he is not surposw to be in the senate not to talk of heading it

  • New Nigerian

    Saraki, keep singing and dancing….those who are clapping for you today would be sniggering at you tomorrow. Your chosen constituency (PDPlutocrats) are waiting for the right opportunity to stick their long knives into your back, if it would save their own hides. They are using you as a shield for what would be their lots, due to what their hands have sent forth!

    Having said that, the case against you is you vs. the federal republic of Nigeria …that is 180million of us, how do you reduce it that to “few individuals”??

    • Larry

      Rightly said. If the “Senate President” knows he has done the right thing according to law, then he has no worry. However, if he has knows he has violated the law, then he should honoablly give-in and be a good example. If you cannot abide by the law, then step aside. Anyone found wanting should be tried and jailed, if proven guilty. Nigerians are looking for honest, decent and patrioic leaders, not indescipline and corrupt individuals.

  • omo56

    He must be kidding, his idea of protecting democracy is to bring back into power (PDP) the party the country just rejected during the last election.

    And does he really think that he, Saraki, will ever be trusted by most part of the country and or political party?

  • Omooba

    In other words, Saraki’s message to Nigerians is to “DEFEND CORRUPT DEMOCRACY” Long live Nigeria and Corrupt Federal Republic.