- APC: Akpabio, others’ seats can’t be declared vacant
- EFCC denies collusion to undermine Buhari
Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) yesterday said they had uncovered a fresh plot to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, from office by force on Wednesday.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said the presidency planned to use the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to invite, arrest and detain Saraki and Ekweremadu ahead of the Wednesday session of the National Assembly, with the sole aim of preventing them from attending the session so that All Progressives Congress (APC) senators could have ample opportunity to remove them from office.
The rAPC’s spoke in similar vein just as the APC declared that the speculated intention of Saraki to declare vacant seats of former Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and his colleagues, who defected from the PDP, would be unlawful, and would be resisted.
And in a related development, the EFCC, also sunday, denied claims by the Special Adviser (Political Matters) to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, in an article entitled: ‘Fifth Columnists in Our Recent History,’ which suggested that the anti-graft commission was a conscript in an alleged devious plot by Saraki to undermine the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The PDP in its claim said the pressure by the presidency for the reconvening of the Senate was out of a sinister motive and not for any emergency for the approval of the supplementary budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2019 election.
It said that there was a fresh plot to detain the two presiding officers as part of renewed design to keep them out of circulation, ahead of Senate resumption, so as to enable APC senators, who it said were now in the minority, to throw up two of their members as Senate president and deputy Senate president respectively on the excuse that Saraki and Ekweremadu failed to show up for proceedings in the Senate.
It said that apart from plots to arrest and detain Saraki and Ekweremadu, it is also aware of plans to use the EFCC and security forces to clamp down on their family members, including their wives and siblings as well as close associate, all in the effort to weaken their resolve.
PDP said that contrary to claims by the APC and the presidency, INEC actually submitted the budget to the presidency since February 2018, only for the presidency to submit it to the National Assembly in July when the legislature was already going on recess; with a view to enmesh it in a needless controversy.
It said, “The PDP counsels Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to stop acting saint, as Nigerians are aware that he is part and parcel of the actors behind the sordid developments playing out in the National Assembly.
“The PDP invites Nigerians and the international community to note the activities of the APC and the Buhari presidency, which have continued to put the unity and stability of our nation as well as our hard-earned democracy under serious stress.”
In an earlier statement, the PDP asked Oshiomhole to halt his obsession to change the leadership of the Senate, saying it was completely out of his reach.
The party also advised the APC national chairman to have a better understanding of the Senate structure, explaining that the positions of the Senate president and deputy Senate president do not belong to political parties but to Nigerians, who elect persons into the seats through their elected representatives in the Senate.
It said, “Oshiomhole should stop exposing his ignorance in thinking that the Senate leadership can be changed by his inconsequential orders as a factional chairman of a political party, when the law is settled that such power is vested only on the two-third votes, representing 73 of the 109 senators.
“We know that Oshiomhole is under intense pressure from the presidency to overheat the polity, distract the National Assembly members and make as much effort to cause a constitutional crisis in the country, having realized that they cannot win the 2019 general elections.”
PDP warned those it called the desperate power grabbers to note that their actions had unlimited capacity to destroy democracy in the country.
The PDP urged Nigerians and the international community to note the activities of Oshiomhole, as being allegedly directed by the presidency, saying it believed the APC was fighting a lost battle that could not cow Nigerians into changing their resolve to end Buhari’s reign in 2019.
APC in Fresh Plot to Unseat Saraki, Says rAPC
In a press statement in Abuja sunday by rAPC’s spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, the aggrieved group within the ruling party, said that this time, the Oshiomhole-led APC was hell-bent in giving nebulous interpretation to the provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), by using the numbers of senators present to provoke the removal of Saraki and Ekweremadu.
‘’To this end, they have called on all APC senators to make it a point of duty to participate at the plenary on Wednesday to pass a vote of no confidence on the Senate President. This will be followed by orchestrated rancorous plenary session from where impeachment (removal) motion would be raised and their illegality perpetrated,’’ rAPC alleged.
It added, ‘’There have been two meetings of the leaders and the senators in the last 48 hours to perfect this approach. The security agencies have also been briefed according to information reaching us. The APC factional chairman has been boasting and insisting that the Senate president would be impeached (removed) by whatever means because he no longer deserves to wear the crown.’’
According to R-APC, the National Assembly is neither a kingdom of princes and princesses, nor is it a sanctuary for traditional doctrinaire where crowns and beads are used to impose monarchical authority.
“We are also using this medium to condemn the blatant use of cash-for-votes, which the APC has introduced into our electoral process,” it said, adding, “The just concluded by-elections in Katsina, Bauchi and Kogi States are testimonies to this fact. This is a sad commentary for a government that preaches anti-corruption as its cardinal philosophy of governance. The desperation to win at all cost and the killings associated with the elections are bad signals towards 2019 general election.’’
Calling on the Acting President to sack the current Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, who the group said had shown ‘’manifest incompetence’’ in the discharge of his responsibilities, rAPC wondered how an interim report of the police to the acting president on the ex-Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), Mr. Lawan Daura, made its way into pages of socialmedia platforms when the investigation was inconclusive.
It asked, ‘’How can the police exonerate itself from the act when it was reported that a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Habila, was seen in a meeting with senators at the Aso Drive private office of the factional chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole?
“What was he doing there as early as 10a.m. on that fateful morning of Tuesday, 7th August, 2018?’’
The group called for an independent judicial investigation panel, made of eminent jurists to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the siege to the National Assembly.
Calling on the Senate president to invoke the provisions of section 68 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in declaring the seat of Senator Godswill Akpabio vacant, the group further stated that it was not on record that there was division in the opposition PDP, hence this declaration would be a step in the right direction.
‘’As the National Assembly plans to resume on Tuesday (Wednesday), we are calling on all Nigerians and lovers of democracy to be extra-vigilant before and during the plenary. The latest plans by the APC may yet again leave unsavoury taste in our mouths,’’ rAPC said.
APC: Akpabio, Others’ Can’t Be Declared Vacant
But the APC sunday dismissed the threat to declare Akpabio and other PDP defectors’ seat vacant as wishful thinking.
A senator from the North-west, believed to be a Saraki’s ally, had said last weekend that the Senate president would declare Akpabio’s seat vacant because according to him, there was no division in PDP to warrant such action.
However, the APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabene, said that the Saraki would be risking his seat if he tried to move against defectors to the APC.
He said those that left APC to PDP, including Saraki could not justify such action since there was no faction whatsoever in the APC.
The APC Spokesman who spoke to THISDAY on telephone on Sunday said that such a threat was a misplaced one.
He said, “Was there a faction in the APC before and others left to join the PDP? What this means is that since there was legally no faction in APC. It can’t be possible. If they say that, it means the Senate president has automatically removed himself from office.
“This is because there is no faction in APC and this was attested to by the fact that even the Senate President attended the APC national convention and witnessed that there was no parallel congress on that day.”
He said notwithstanding the move by the rAPC to create a semblance of faction, the group could not lay claim to organising a congress to elect parallel leadership of the party.
There has been spate of defections cutting across party lines but with the main opposition party, PDP getting a seeming advantage. In the wake of the defections, PDP had secured about 14 senators from the APC, who defected in one fell swoop. Additional three governors also defected to the PDP along with their numerous allies and followers.
On its part, the APC made a daring move to woo Akpabio with a few others to its side.
Both APC and PDP have since engaged each other in a battle of wits over who now controls majority seat in National Assembly, with each employing all arsenals at its disposal to score political advantage.
EFCC Denies Colluding to Undermine Buhari
Meanwhile, the EFCC has denied a suggestion by the presidential Adviser Ojudu that the anti-graft commission was a conscript in an alleged plot by Saraki to undermine Buhari.
The commission’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement yesterday, said the commission took exception to the attempt to impute false motive to its investigative activities
EFCC quoted Ojudu as saying, “From the shenanigans at the Benue House of Assembly, to the siege on National Assembly, the attack on judges’ home in the night, the so called barricade of the Senate President’s house, the laughable kidnap of Boy Dino and his eleven hours on a tree, the freezing of Benue and Akwa Ibom accounts all are scripted, produced and acted by Oloye Productions.’’
However, EFCC said that the recent placement of a ‘Post No Debit Order’ on some accounts in Benue and Akwa Ibom states were the culmination of many months of painstaking investigation activities, adding that to reduce such activities to the level of a stunt in a real or imaginary script by any politician was outrageous.
“It is important to state that the EFCC is NOT a party to the so called script by Saraki. Members of the public should disregard the innuendo in Ojudu’s article as it is unfounded,” the commission stated.
EFCC called for circumspection on the part of political leaders, while urging them to seek clarification before making comments on matters they do not know about.