* Ex-governor, minister, four senators fingered
* Drama as Senate moves to check undemocratic tendencies
Indications emerged yesterday that the Presidency, in collusion with some lawmakers in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, has hatched a fresh plan to impeach the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, as a final onslaught to cripple his political career ahead of the 2019 polls.
The plot, which is said to have reached an advanced stage, is coming to light one week after Senator Isah Hamman Misau alleged at plenary that a cabinet minister was leading a squad of politicians within and outside the parliament to impeach Saraki. Although Misau did not name the minister involved, his open testimony on the issue raised a red flag.
Our reporter gathered that the said minister, who hails from the South-South, was given the task because of his closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari and had a good working relationship with him (Buhari).
Also fingered in the plot is a serving governor from North-West and a close ally of President Buhari, who once held a public office during the Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime.
The conspirators were said to have been meeting at the Presidential Villa alongside four serving senators from the North who are believed to be against the presumed presidential ambition of Saraki in 2019. Apart from Saraki, four other senators loyal to him are also being targeted by the conspirators.
Our reporter also learnt that some of the lawmakers, who have been contacted to execute the plot, have shown reluctance to carry out the assignment because of fears that any impeachment at this time could throw the parliament into disarray.
Others who were conscripted argued that Misau was right to be angry with the Presidency over his trial by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), following his face-off with the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris. It was gathered that Saraki is already aware of the moves, but was bidding his time before responding to the planned coup.
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has set February 6 to commence the re-trial of the Senate President over alleged false assets declaration. Meanwhile, there was a drama on the floor of the Senate yesterday, when Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia South) called for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari and governors found to have breached sections of the constitution in the course of governance.
This occurred when Abaribe spoke on a bill for an Act to prescribe punishment for acts and conducts that are undemocratic by elected officials and or persons and other matters connected therewith (2018) sponsored by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi South). Na’Allah, who is the Deputy Senate Leader, had, in his lead debate, noted that it had become necessary for the 8th Senate to lead in legislative interventions to address actions that had continued to constitute a threat to the nation’s democracy.
However, contributing, Abaribe argued that the bill was not necessary because the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria captured the intentions of the bill. He said that the only problem was that the executive arm had not been implementing the law by punishing those who were defaulting and flouting the provisions of the constitution. He said that his heart was in support of the bill, but his head was against because it was a mere duplication of the provisions of the existing law.
The lawmaker provoked members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) when he suggested that President Buhari should be impeached for several constitutional breaches he had committed. “I think where this problem of Ibn Allah, our very good friend, is that the executive today refuses to act when they need to act for consequences of what the people do.
The penalty is there in the constitution. If a president refuses to act, then impeach him; there is no other thing you need to do,” he said. At this juncture, the leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, interjected by raising Order 53 (4) which says, “Senator must confine his observations to the subject under discussion and may not introduce matters irrelevant.” President of Senate, Saraki, then quickly intervened by saying, “Senator Abaribe, definitely you have completely gone off the subject matter and as such, Leader’s point of Order is sustained.”
Abaribe continued: “Thank you, Mr. President, I am just quoting from our lead debate’s quote which says, ‘you dodge away from your responsibilities, you must face the consequences’. “I was simply explaining that, so let me take away the one for the president by saying, any governor that leaves his responsibilities should be impeached. That is how it is in the constitution.” Saraki again interjected: “I don’t think this bill is targeting the executive arm of government.
So, let us limit it to the debate.” Abaribe continued: “Mr. President, let me say this that I fully subscribe to what is in this Bill, that it has become worrisome that if this is not checked, it will affect our democratic culture.
The instances abound and yesterday our former president, our revered president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo even exposed everything…” Saraki interjected again, saying “Senator Abaribe, I don’t need a point of Order, I will play the role of the leader and the President of the Senate in this matter… (laughs).” Saraki referred the Bill to Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and asked it to return it back in four weeks.