Sunday, 20 September 2015

Buhari: I’ve nothing to do with Saraki’s position

President Muhammadu Buhari has no hand in Senate President Bukola Saraki’s travails, the Presidency said yesterday.

It also dismissed those claiming that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) were being influenced as uninformed.

The tribunal is trying Saraki for alleged false declaration of assets. He and his supporters allege that it was all instigated – politically.

But Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu stressed the institutions’ independence, saying they take no  instructions from any quarters.

The tribunal is set up by the Constitution to determine default, false declaration or forgery in assets declaration. It is equal to any superior court of record, Shehu said.

The statement reads: “This therefore is purely a judicial process and has nothing to do with the Presidency.

“If anyone has an axe to grind with what they are doing, they should do it in a judicial manner by challenging those actions in a proper court of law.

“Let them hire a good team of lawyers to prove their innocence. Government has no desire to persecute anybody.”

Shehu said the President had vowed to respect the rule of law and that is what he is doing by staying out of the matter.

According to him, Buhari has said many times that the war against corruption has no sacred cows.

He said: “Even if the President wants to help, there is no way he can do anything. Is he going to ask the judge to stop the trial?”

“It is purely a judicial process, the type of which is routinely dealt with by the CCB and the CCT. There are many cases like this that are going on.

“The President has sworn to an oath to protect the Constitution and will not violate that oath.”

Saraki will most likely appear before the tribunal today.

Also, the Chairman of the CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, has banned visitors from his home and restricted his movement to stave off pressure.

He has also shut his mobile phone.

It was learnt that despite his notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal, Saraki has offered to show his respect for the Judiciary by going to the tribunal.

Saraki’s decision followed a pledge by his counsel, Mr. Joseph B. Daudu (SAN), a former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president, that his client will be in court today. He made the pledge on Friday before Justice Umar issued a bench warrant for the Senate President’s arrest.

A top source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The President of the Senate has chosen to appear before the CCT to demonstrate his deference to the Judiciary.

“He said he has been an apostle of the Rule of Law and due process and would stick to his commitment to these ideals.

“This decision may make the tribunal to stay action on the issuance of a bench warrant.

“Basically, a formal arraignment of the President of the Senate will be made and the tribunal will hear the subsisting application for bail, which was already filed by Saraki’s counsel.

“The appearance is just symbolic to start the commencement of the trial, it is not an end in itself.”

Justice Umar has banned visitors from his home to stave off pressure.

“There has been pressure on the chairman and members of the tribunal. This is why the judge has banned visitors from his house and he also shut down all his phone lines,” a source said, adding: “Umar has restricted his movement since Friday to ward off any influence. He  is only out to dispense justice without fear or favour.

“Without any pronouncement, the judge is already being attacked by some people or groups in the media for no just cause. They want to intimidate him.”

The Senate President got the support yesterday of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), which described his travails as “purely politically-motivated.”

Speaking on last week’s visit of the body to Senator Saraki in Abuja, IEDPU National President Abdulhamid Adi wondered why the Code of Conduct Bureau failed to raise any issue concerning the Senate President’s asset declaration forms since 2003.

According to him, the 12-year interval to unearth the allegations by the Code of Conduct Bureau and the way the Code of Conduct Tribunal is handling the issue is suspicious.

”I see it more or less a political persecution. It is purely political. Maybe there are some political opponents that are trying to get at him,”he said.

Alhaji Adi urged the CCB not to be used to achieve certain political gain but to do its job without external influence.

The IEDPU President, who pointed out that  Saraki is the first Ilorin Emirate and Kwara State indigene to clinch the coveted position, expressed solidarity with the Turaki of Ilorin.

He said:” We believe he will come out of it. You are presumed innocent until proven otherwise”.

Adi added that members of the IEDPU across the country were mobilised in the solidarity visit to the Senate President to present a position paper on issues affecting the Ilorin Emirate and Kwara State at large.