Politics this week: Saraki’s trial commences

bukola-sarakiAfter several weeks of judicial gymnastics and the cat-and-mouse game between embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) over alleged false declaration, Saraki’s trial resumed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on Tuesday.

At the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday before adjournment to April 18, the Prosecution Witness, Michael Wetkas, sang like a bird with his startling revelations on how the Saraki, while in office, allegedly acquired financial and material wealth that were not part of what he declared to the CCB on assumption of office.

The Kwara State government has denied one of the allegations, that Saraki received salaries and pensions for four years after leaving office as governor.

To compound his woes, Saraki was mention as one of those wealthy Nigerians that allegedly own secret accounts and investments offshore by the Panama (Papers) leaks.

But the senate president, who appeared to have the backing of majority of his colleagues, has repeatedly insisted that his trial is politically motivated.

On Tuesday, he said he was happy the trial had commenced, assuring his supporters that he would be vindicated at the end.

His continued stay in office while his trial goes on may be dependent on his colleagues, political intrigues and interests, but whichever way his trial goes at the end, it would forever remain a reference point in the history of anti-corruption fight in the country’s democracy.

Dr Tope Aluko and Governor Ayodele Fayose after reconciliation. PHOTO: Channels TV

Dr Tope Aluko and Governor Ayodele Fayose after reconciliation. PHOTO: Channels TV

Fayose, Aluko Drama Continues

Since the victory of Mr. Ayo Fayose as governor of Ekiti State on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there have been rumours and unfounded theories on how his victory came about.

Initially, it was one Captain Sagir Koli, who from his hideout, granted an interview alleging how Senator Iyiola Omisore, then minister for Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who was at the time minister of State for Defence and Chief Chris Uba went to Ekiti and connived with Brig-Gen Aliyu Momoh to rig the election in favour of Fayose.

Many Nigerians took the story with pinch of salt, following strong denials from those alleged to have been involved.

Almost a year after the Supreme Court affirmed Fayose’s victory, former state PDP secretary and Fayose’s close ally, Dr. Temitope (TKO) Aluko, appeared on a live television programme with his own version of and a new dimension to the story.

But like a typical Nigerian politician, Aluko recently appeared in company of Fayose before journalists in Lagos, telling the world that they had reconciled their differences.

But less than 24 hours after, it appears they have returned to the trenches.

A statement issued by Fayose’s Special Assistant on Public Communications, Lere Olayinka, said that Aluko “lacked integrity” and he was grateful that “the hypocrisy of Aluko was exposed for the whole world to see.”

Aluko, on his own part, said he and Fayose were back at loggerheads and the press conference was an orchestrated attempt to harm his credibility.

Obviously, trust politicians, the drama would surely continue, if not for anything, for relevance and repositioning ahead of the next election, even as the Nigeria Army has retired Momoh prematurely and re-absorbed Koli for a job well done.

Osoba Finally Returns To APC

WHO says what is good for the goose is not good for the gander.

The recent return of former governor of Ogun State and foundation member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aremu Segun Osoba, to the party should not be a surprise to good students of Nigerian political history.

This is because if politicians that openly worked against the party during the elections and didn’t contribute anything to its victory at the polls could defect to the APC afterwards, what stops Osoba from returning to a house he built.

Osoba, a leading figure in the Alliance for Democracy (AD), was also among those who founded the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that merged with other parties to become APC.

He was invariably the state leader of ACN before the emergence of Governor Ibikunle Amosun as governor in 2011 on the party’s platform.

Ahead of last year’s polls, the battle for the control of the party structure in the state pitched him against Amosun.

He allegedly rebuffed some overtures from Amosun and later defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) with his loyalists, including the deputy governor, three senators and six House of Representatives members.

osobaSDP didn’t record any victory in the state at the elections and the need for a rethink became obvious if he must remain politically relevant.

Not many were therefore surprised when the APC leader and former governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, led the likes of Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by his deputy, Mrs. Oluranti Adebule, former governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and other party stalwarts to a meeting with Osoba at his Ikoyi, Lagos residence recently.

But neither Amosun, his deputy, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, nor APC leaders in Osoba’s home state attended the meeting, and no explanation was given for their absence.

When asked if he had returned to the APC, Osoba replied: “No, no. There is an ongoing discussion between us, but there is no final decision yet.

“I believe that the good cause of the Yoruba and the nation will give us the grace to come to an amicable reconciliation.”

Has Osoba truly returned to the APC without Amosun’s support or co-operation? Won’t this development create more problems in the state chapter of the party? Will Osoba’s planned return and reconciliation bring about genuine peace in the party, not only in the state, but also in the Southwest?

Panama Leaks: Who Is Next?

It is another period of panic among the political class and their allies in the country, with the recent disclosures from the Panama Papers leaks on how some of them secretly stashed looted public funds offshore.

Those allegedly mentioned include Saraki; former senate president, Senator David Mark; former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori; former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd); and others.

Now that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is in possession of the leaked documents, has said that it would release all the details early May and there are strong indications that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may probe any Nigerians named, there is palpable fear in the country, as nobody knows whose name would be mentioned next.

But those involved surely know themselves.

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