OrderPaperToday –  Calls for Senate President Bukola Saraki to resign from office due to his corruption trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) will very likely disturb the peace of the chamber today when plenary resumes after a two-week.

The Supreme Court had penultimate Friday cleared all judicial hurdles placed in the way of the trial as the apex justices ordered Saraki to face trial over allegations of false assets declartion and money laundering leveled against him by the CCT.

Since that ruling, there have been stringent calls for the senate president to resign from office and save the integrity of the legislature while his supporters on the other hand, have opposed such calls arguing that Saraki stands innocent until convicted.

The development has reopened fresh line of battle between senators of the Unity Forum who opposed the election of Saraki as senate president and those of ‘Like Minds’ who rallied support for his victory.

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Over the weekend and through Monday, tension was palpable in the senate as senators from both sides of the divide perfected strategies on how to counter each other if the matter is eventually brought on the floor.

But Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume (APC, Borno State) Monday assured that calls for Saraki’s resignation will not generate any rowdy session at the Senate upon resumption on today.

Ndume while briefing newsmen in Abuja said that it was unconstitutional for anybody to call for Saraki’s resignation due to the corruption trial.

He said that the Senate will focus more of deliberatrating on very important bills such as the Anti-Corrupt Practices Prohibition Bill and other bills and motion that may come up on the floor.

He said: “Let me refer you to Section 35(5) of our constitution which talks about right of fair hearing: the Constitution clearly states that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
“In this case, if somebody is accused as Saraki is accused now, do you expect him to say he will resign? It means you have found him guilty even before the trial, which is not fair. That is my position.

“I have been in this business for a very long time, I am not expecting any rowdy session, there is no big deal in that. If events happen like this we know how to handle it, you don’t have problem with that.”

Reacting to his alleged frequent visits to the Villa, he said that he had been a friend of President Buhari for a long time and had continued to visit him, adding that as the Leader of the Senate, there were a lot of consultations that were necessary between the executive and the legislature.

He therefore stressed that his visits to the Villa should not raise any eyebrows as he will continue to visit the Villa as both the President and the Vice President were his friends.
He reiterated that his visit to the Villa had nothing to do with the case of the President of the Senate at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

He stated: “I am happy to be seen or called a mediator: I am the senate leader and we do consultation, I go to do consultation and we should be doing that more often.

“When the President was in Kaduna on retirement I am one of the few persons that go to visit him so this time around it will not change. We have also established a good relationship with the vice president and if there is any other issues that come up and demands my going to the Villa, I do not know why I should not go.

“Why should my presence at the Villa be news? For you information I was at the villa gain today. I cannot be going to the Villa because of Saraki and the issue of Saraki is not a big deal, he is in court accused of certain things, it is the court that will determine his innocence or otherwise.

Ndume vehemently debunked claims that he was in contention to be the next Senate President should Saraki vacate office stressing that he was solidly behind the President o fthe Senate.

He declared that he wanted to be the President of the Senate at a time but “we cannot have two Presidents in the Senate at the same time, that is why you see that once we had one senate president I stood by that Senate President 100 per cent.

“There can only be one President of the Senate at one time and all the 109 senators are equally qualified to be Senate President.
“Right now we have Dr. Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate and you have Sen. Ali Ndume as the Senate Leader for now and I am contented with that.”



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