Nigerian users on Twitter, on Saturday, expressed surprise at the removal of the All Progressives Congress’ name from the official profile page of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
According to some users, the Senate President’s verified Twitter biography previously read, in part, “Member of the APC.”
However, when our correspondent visited the page, it simply read, “Senate President and Chairman of the 8th National Assembly. Committed to Transparency and Accountability.”
One user, Am Human No Labels, said, “Sir, are you no longer a member of the ruling party? I can’t find APC on your bio anymore.”
In the same vein, @olufemisp wrote, “I knew it was when @bukolasaraki deleted the “APC” that proudly adorned his bio. This Saraki war will consume the party.”
Another user, AS Aruwa, said, “I just noticed that @bukolasaraki has deleted ‘Member of the APC’ from his bio. Someone is about to decamp?”
Maryam Abubakar also asked, “Now that the ‘APC’ on Bukola Saraki’s Twitter bio is gone, what should we expect?”
“Why is the APC on your bio gone sir?” @RichieDectector asked, while Ayokunle Odekunle wrote, “@BukolaSaraki removes the ‘APC’ from his bio. It gets more interesting.”
Afolabi Ajiboro also said, “@ogundamisi have you noticed that @bukolasaraki has removed APC from his bio on Twitter? Minutes later the PDP released statement defending him.”
The Senate President did not respond to the controversy on Twitter.
However, the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said, “It is not a new development. The party logo was there during the elections and we took it off after the elections about a month ago.”
Meanwhile, the Force Headquarters on Saturday said it was still waiting for the bench warrant issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for the arrest of the Senate President.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, said the police had yet to get the court order as of Saturday when our correspondent inquired about the delay in the execution of the arrest warrant.
Kolawole explained that the police cannot arrest Saraki without the court order.
“We have not received the bench warrant till now (Saturday) and until we get the court order, we cannot execute it,” she said over the phone.
Justice Danladi Umar of the Code of Conduct Tribunal had on Friday in Abuja ordered a bench warrant against Saraki for failing to appear before the court to answer charges over alleged false declaration of assets.
The judge specifically ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, or other security agencies to arrest Saraki and produce him in court on Monday to take plea in the 13-count charge slammed on him by the Federal Government.
But Saraki’s lead counsel and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Joseph Daudu, said he had filed an appeal asking the court to set aside the ruling dated September 18, 2015.
Daudu said the trial judge erred in law and “acted without jurisdiction by countenancing and assuming jurisdiction over the criminal trial/prosecution of the accused/appellant at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for a charge, which is being challenged at the FHC, Abuja in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/775/2015 between Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki vs Ministry of Justice and three others and in disobedience of the order of the FHC, Abuja Division dated September 17, 2015.”
He averred that it was not necessary for his client to be present in court since the accused had filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to adjudicate on the charge brought before it.
The Federal Government had on September 11 filed a 13-count charge against Saraki before the CCT and the case was fixed for Friday for his arraignment, but the accused failed to appear in court.
According to the suit filed at the CCT, allegations against Saraki include failure to declare property on Plot 2A, Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; failure to declare property on No 1, Tagus Street, Maitama, Abuja (Plot 2482, Cadastral Zone A06, Abuja) and failure to declare property No 3, Tagus Street, Maitama, Abuja (Plot 2481, Cadastral Properties Limited).
Buhari desperate to remove Saraki — PDP
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party on Saturday accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration of despotism and desperation to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The PDP said the Buhari administration had continued to rule the country without a constitutional component of a cabinet, persistent abuse of power as well as undermining democratic institutions.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh, who said this in a statement in Abuja, also accused the Buhari administration of intolerance, particularly over the treatment being meted out to Saraki.
According to the PDP, the administration has invaded a state Government House and personal houses and injected confusion into the judiciary.
The party expressed worry over what it called the “relentless onslaught against democratic institutions.” It said it was especially worried by “the growing tension trailing the quest to annex the National Assembly; for which the Presidency had since vowed not to recognise the current Senate leadership, in total disdain to the independence of the legislature and the principle of separation of powers.”
The PDP also described President Buhari’s condemnation of the recent coup in Burkina Faso as a mockery of reasoning.
Metuh said, “Ordinarily, the intra-party squabbles within the APC regarding leadership positions in the Senate is not necessarily our concern.
“Also, we are not interested in whether Senate President Bukola Saraki ran for the APC presidential ticket against President Muhammadu Buhari; or whether he ran for the Senate presidency against the advice of the President and his party.
“Our concerns here are the prevailing executive intolerance, the undermining of the institution of the National Assembly and the overall threat to the survival of our democracy.”
The party said it took note of the dangerous trend because the Presidency and the APC had not hidden their aversion to the election of Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President, respectively.
The PDP spokesperson also said what was happening was part of a larger script to commence a major onslaught against federal lawmakers perceived to hold divergent views to those of the Presidency, irrespective of party affiliations, a situation that would ensure a subdued legislature.
The APC on its part accused the PDP of openly launching a counter-offensive against the determined efforts of the Buhari administration to rid the country of impunity and corruption, but warned that the opposition party will fail in its attempt to take Nigerians back to Egypt.
Its spokesman, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said, “With its statement that is nothing but an unabashed support for impunity and corruption, as well as its major actors, the PDP has now confirmed itself as the official ‘poster boy’ for corruption in Nigeria.”
APC said the long-winding sophistry about the rule of law, democracy and personal freedoms is aimed at couching the PDP’s abhorrence and disdain for the fight against corruption in democratic clichés, especially now that the battle is gradually hitting the PDP where it hurts.
The APC said,the persistent onslaught against the Buhari administration was neither altruistic nor informed by any belief in higher values, “because the allegations of corruption hanging on Metuh’s neck, from within his own party, is a clear indication that he is mortally afraid that the wind will soon blow hard enough to expose the fowl’s rump’’.
“Neither the PDP as a party nor its spokesman have the moral authority to condemn anyone, least of all a President that is working hard to rescue Nigeria from the abyss to which it has been plunged by the former ruling party.
“For the PDP to brush aside the latest revelation that a government it sired could not account for $700 million from the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), or the fact that the party could not account for billions of Naira in its own campaign funds, and then launch a frontal attack against a reformist government, is the height of shamelessness.
“For the ethically-challenged spokesman of the same morally-deficient party to continue to spew trash under the guise of opposition politics is totally provocative and absolutely unacceptable. Worse still, the lack of focus in the labyrinthine statements being issued by the opposition party has confirmed the prescience of the APC’s offer to the PDP’s spokesman to take a crash course in how to speak for the opposition.’’
Saraki loyalists hire 1500 Islamic clerics
Supporters and loyalists of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki have engaged in vigil and fasting.
One of the conveners of the prayers, Mr. Kayode Yusuf, who is popularly called ‘Maja,’ in an interview with our correspondent in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Saturday, said prayer sessions were being held all over the state, especially in the Ilorin motropolis.
He said he had mobilised over 500 Muslim clerics while about 1,000, including the Chief Iman of Ilorin, Mohammad Solihu were praying in different areas in the state for Saraki’s victory.
“Yusuf, who is the convener of ‘Maja Elders Forum’, called on President Buhari to intervene and prevent the polity from being over-heated.
He expressed the hope that Saraki’s travail would soon be over.
Yusuf said, “We in Kwara are powerless. The only thing we can do is to support him (Saraki) with prayers. We have no money, soldiers, police or any other security apparatus. We are just ordinary citizens of Kwara and Nigeria. But we in Kwara, especially in Ilorin, believe in the power of prayers.
“All of us in Ilorin, including the Chief Imam of Ilorin, are involved in the prayers. Saraki is our leader. He must not come down. Within the short time that he was elevated as the Senate President, we know what we have benefited from him.
“I have mobilised more than 500 Imans and over 1,000 others are praying in different areas. They have been praying and fasting. Even the women are praying for him. Saraki is our benefactor. Even the uneducated do not want anything to happen to Bukola Saraki. They are not sleeping but are also praying. The prayers will last till Saraki’s ordeal is over.”
In a related development, a coalition of civil society organisations under the aegis of Heritage Centre and the National Association of Nigerian Students have threatened to lead mass protests to foreign embassies in Abuja to protest alleged political vendetta being carried out against the Senate President.