- Senator denies allegations, says Senate President is like a son to him
- CCT adjourns Sarakiâ€™s trial indefinitely
Damilola Oyedele and Alexander Enumah in Abuja
There is more trouble in the offing for the ousted Chairman of the Northern Senatorsâ€™ Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa, APC), as the Senate yesterday directed its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate allegations that he was involved in a plot to destabilise the Senate.
Adamu, a former Governor of Nassarawa State, was also accused of planning to trigger protests against the leadership of the Senate led â€Žby Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in order to get him impeached.
The accusations were levelled against the embattled lawmaker by Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi, PDP), who claimed to have documentary evidence to support the allegations.
But in a swift reaction, Adamu denied the allegations, saying that Saraki was like a son to him.
Adamu was one of ten senators recently accused of being part of a plot by the presidency to impeach Saraki.
He was also vocal and openly criticised the recent amendment to the Electoral Act, which is proposing to change the sequencing of general elections in the country for the presidential polls to be conducted last, claiming that it was a pre-determined move to weaken President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 polls.
But in a push back by the Senate, his colleagues in the Northern Senatorsâ€™ Forum removed him as chairman of the forum and accused him of not being able to account for N70 million in the coffers of the forum.
Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna, APC), who gave the expose, said the excuse given by Adamu was that the money went missing when monkeys invaded his farm.
No explanation was ever given as to why Adamu chose to keep N70 million at his farm.
Ogba, citing an order of personal explanation, said that the planned protests would involve civil society organisations, market women and others against Saraki and the Senate.
â€œIn January, Senator Isah Hamman Misau made a revelation here that there was a plot to remove the Senate President and the entire leadership. Now, I have reliable information that some people are already planning to destabilise the Senate, including the leadership by organising demonstrations.
â€œI believe that all of us are leaders and none of us should do anything that will destabilise the country or the Senate. Anything that will destabilise our democracy, we should avoid it.
â€œIf there is any issue at stake, you have the opportunity to raise it here. But not to go outside and start planning with civil society organisations, market women and others to lead protests against the leadership of the Senate,â€ he said.
Ogba called for investigations into the plot, adding that there was a telephone discussion between Adamu and others on the development.
â€œThis is a very serious issue. When this issue was raised in January, we did not take it seriously. We must have to stand up and look into it. Waving it aside is not the best thing. If I have your permission, I want to lay the evidence in full,â€ he said.
Presiding, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said all hands must be on deck to preserve the sanctity of the parliament.
â€œThe difference between military, autocratic or any oppressive regime and a democracy is the parliament. Once you remove the parliament, you are going to have problems.
â€œIn whatever you do, we must continue to preserve the sanctity of the parliament. I want to appeal that anyone who is interested in destabilising this country, the person is not doing anybody any good.
â€œWe have received this information and for whatever it is worth, we will refer it to our Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to look into it and report back within two weeks,â€ Ekweremadu ruled.
However, Adamu thursday denied the allegations, saying the Senate President was â€œlike a sonâ€ to him and at no time did he make an attempt to oust him from power.
Adamu, who was not at plenary when the allegations were made against him, said he was not interested in becoming the Senate President and expressed disbelief at the claims.
â€œIâ€™m not in town. I lost someone and Iâ€™m presently in Nasarawa State. However, a colleague called me and drew my attention to what happened on the floor of the Senate today. It is amusing but very saddening at the same time.
â€œI am not in anyway after Saraki. He is like a son to me. I had every right to contest for the Senate President seat three years ago when the 8th Senate was inaugurated, but I never did because I wasnâ€™t interested.
â€œIt is therefore not logical for anyone to say Iâ€™m interested in the seat now, and will be planning to destabilise the Senate. To achieve what? For what purpose?
â€œIt is not right for anyone to make such unfounded allegations. We are almost three years in office, the election year is drawing nearer, and I think anyone thinking of upstaging the leadership of the Senate for any reason will only be fighting a losing battle because it is not what should naturally occupy the mind of any serious-minded lawmaker now,â€ he said.
Adamu said he was prepared to appear before the ethics committee, which was directed to investigate the matter.
â€œI am not in anyway afraid of anyone who thinks I have offended him. I have the neck to carry my cross, but no one should cook up lies just to discredit me or any senator for that matter.
â€œIf Iâ€™m asked to appear before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, I will come out clean because whoever raises the allegations will have to come and present incontrovertible facts to prove the allegations.
â€œThen names of other so-called collaborators will be made known, they will be confronted, evidence of such meetings will be produced, those accused will be asked to defend themselves, and recommendations will be made by the committee based on the facts presented to it,â€ he added.
Adamu, however, vowed to continue to fight for what he believes in, saying: â€œAs for me, let me repeat that Iâ€™m not in anyway after Saraki, I canâ€™t be after Saraki, and I wonâ€™t do anything to upstage the leadership as being claimed because itâ€™s a fruitless venture.
â€œBut if I believe strongly in a cause, I stand by it. If Iâ€™ve offended anyone by my strong stand on some issues in the Senate, in accordance with my conviction, I stand by it anytime. But the allegation of trying to cause disaffection in the Senate is of no issues at all.â€
Trial Adjourned Indefinitely
The allegations against Adamu were also made in Sarakiâ€™s absence during plenary, as the Senate President was at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) where he is facing trial for false assets declaration when he was the governor of Kwara State.
However, at the resumption of hearing in the case, the Chairman of the CCT, Mr. Danladi Umar adjourned the case indefinitely, saying it would be best to wait for the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court since both parties (the federal government and Saraki) were already at the apex court over the three-count charge returned by the Court of Appeal to the tribunal for trial.
When the matter was called up thursday, both parties were ready to adopt their final addresses.
But having taken into consideration the fact that the appeal filed by Saraki and the federal government against the decision of the Court of Appeal was being given accelerated hearing, Umar decided not to continue with the trial.
He subsequently adjourned further proceedings, pending the determination of the matter by the Supreme Court.
â€œThe tribunal is not insensitive to circumstances in which the defendant was asked to return by the Court of Appeal to answer to allegations in the three-count charge.
â€œSince the Supreme Court is already giving accelerated hearing to the appeals before it, we at the tribunal will be hesitant to proceed further when the Supreme Court is already seized with facts of the matter.
â€œTherefore, this tribunal has decided to tarry awhile so that the integrity of the Supreme Court will not be toyed with,â€ he said.
Earlier, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, had objected to the indefinite adjournment, claiming that doing so would amount to granting the prayers of the defendant.
He added that the appeals in question could not in any way stop the continuation of the trial at the CCT and urged the tribunal to carry on with the dayâ€™s proceedings.
â€œThe appeals filed by the parties before the Supreme Court cannot in any way stop us. I would have said My Lord should tarry a while in respect to the integrity and authority of the court.
â€œBut in this case, the prosecution will want this matter to proceed. Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) enjoins the court not to entertain any cause for stay in a serious matter such as this,â€ he said.
According to Jacobs, the appeal before the Supreme Court was not an issue for reference since Section 305 of the ACJA enjoins the court to go ahead.
He added that the defendant had written a letter on January 19 asking the court to stay proceedings pending the determination of the appeal before the Supreme Court, but he never stuck to that line of argument and went ahead on February 6 with the trial.
Jacobs therefore prayed the tribunal to allow the prosecution to adopt its final address.
On his part, lead counsel to Saraki, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), urged the tribunal to stay proceedings until the Supreme Court has decided on the appeals, adding that the court had informed the defence that it would be sitting on the appeals on Thursday, March 15.
â€œThe tribunal summoned us to come on February 6, we even thought the tribunal will say they have received our letter that we are already before the Supreme Court but the tribunal did not tell us that.
â€œThe principle of the Supreme Court is that the right of appeal must not be stopped; the court itself does not joke with the right of appeal.
â€œThe Supreme Court, being a constitutional right, dominates every other right contrary to it. We therefore appeal to the tribunal to stay proceedings until the appeal before the Supreme Court is decided,â€ he said.
The CCT at its last sitting had adjourned to thursday for the parties to adopt their final address in the trial. The adjournment was predicated on claims by the defence that it was served with the final brief of argument by the prosecution and would need time to respond to it.