As FG brings more witnesses against Saraki
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Christiana Ekpa and Paschal Njoku, Abuja
Indications emerged yesterday that the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators, particularly those in the Unity Forum camp, are working seriously towards impeaching the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, if he refuses to defect from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC.
The fresh threats came yesterday from key senators of the Unity Forum, who had worked surreptitiously during the Christmas recess to ensure that Senator Ali Ndume was impeached as the Senate Leader for Ahmed Lawan to takeover.
One of the Unity Forum Senators who spoke in the National Assembly, Kabiru Marafa, pointedly advised Ekweremadu to defect to the ruling party, indicating that the APC senators may have to impeach him if he fails to defect to their camp.
“The more the merrier, Ekweremadu is my friend, brother, boss and leader and I enjoy good working relationship with him”, he said, even as he disclosed that the APC Senate caucus at their meeting had agreed that the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Bala N’Allah, will retain his position.
He expressed satisfaction with the change in Senate Leadership describing it as victory for the APC and healing process for the party and the Senate, just as he said APC had long awaited when Lawan will serve as Senate Leader following the crisis created by Saraki’s emergence.
Confirming this likelihood also, another top leader of the Senate Unity Forum, Abu Ibrahim (Katsina South), while speaking to journalists, recalled that the principal officers of the present 8th Senate is as balanced as that of the 7th Senate, with the only difference being that the office of the Deputy Senate President is being occupied by a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator.
According to him, in the last session of the senate, there was never a hybrid of leadership where the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) or All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) occupied the office of the Deputy Senate President.
To this end, he said Ekweremadu will have to join APC if he wishes to retain the office, else he should leave it for the APC which has the majority in the Senate.
When he was asked if the crisis in the Senate will now rest with the change of guards in the position of Senate Leader, he said “like I told you, I was not in the chambers when the decision was taken, so until I read the communications, I can be able to tell you if there are other issues that needs intervention”.
He added that the development will consolidate APC, and ensure stability in the Senate, adding that it was a consensus that will create better relationship between Senate and APC.
Similarly, the removed Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, also alluded to this, when he raised a point of Order on the floor, through which he warned that given the way he was remove as Senate Leader when he went for prayers, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu may be impeached anytime in a similar way.
Ndume, while decrying his removal in a jestapo manner, cited Order 43 of the Senate standing Order to fault the process of his removal.
“If today, just like that without telling somebody and he goes out, If it is Ndume today and it’s ok it may be, God forbid, Ekweremadu tomorrow,” he said.
In what looked like Thank You speech to the Senate, Ndume said his removal while he went to pray had given him grave concerns, saying that due process was not followed.
While informing his colleagues that he has accepted his fate, Ndume however, said “I was not found wanting for anything that I know.
“Because of the unity of this senate that is more important than myself, three times I offered to resign and if that will bring peace but I believe that God’s time is the best.
“You are one of those that even warned me here to stop saying that I will resign, but yesterday I was not around, change of leadership was announced.
However, Kabir Marafa (APC-Zamfara), countered him by citing same Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rule, saying that Ndume’s removal followed due process.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government said it has concluded plans to call more witnesses who would testify against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki in his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The revelation followed the discharging of an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Michael Wetkas, who in the last 8 months gave evidence in chief as prosecution witness.
At a resumed trial of Saraki yesterday, Wetkas was re-examined by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob before he was discharged as lead witness from the box.
However, the Federal Government lawyer told the tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar that he would be calling more witnesses to prove the allegation of falsification of assets declaration levelled against Saraki.
In view of this, the tribunal acceded to the request by Rotimi for an adjournment to enable him bring the witnesses even as he pleaded for day to day trial.
Consequently, the trial has been adjourned to January 17.
Meanwhile, upon re examination, Wetkas had told the Code of Conduct Tribunal that the Lagos State Land Registry did not have the record of existence of properties at 15 A and 15 B MacDonald Street, Ikoyi allegedly belonging to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Wetkas said that the investigating team he led was told in writing by the Lagos Land Registry that the existence of the properties at No. 15 A and 15 B MacDonald Street, Ikoyi was not in their record.
He admitted that the EFCC based its assumption that Saraki owns the properties on the claim of a Presidential Committee on sales of the federal government owned properties.