- We meet in court, says Senate president
Deji Elumoye and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The quarrel between the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, worsened Thursday as the ruling party’s helmsman threatened to sue over the Senate president’s comments on corruption allegations against him.
Saraki had on Wednesday in Ilorin said Oshiomhole was morally challenged to ask him to resign his Senate presidency on moral grounds, saying multiple allegations of corruption against the APC national chairman ought to have compelled him to stand down from politics.
A rankled Oshiomhole came out smoking Thursday through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Simon Ebegbulem, asking Saraki to name those alleging corruption against him or face a law suit.
But Saraki, through his Special Adviser on Media, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he could not be intimidated by threat of a law suit, telling Oshiomhole that he was ready to meet him in court.
In fact, the Senate president showed no remorse, saying he was waiting to see how President Muhammadu Buhari would handle the allegations levelled against his party’s chairman.
The APC chairman in his statement said it was pathetic and irresponsible for the Senate president to resort to petty politics, describing Saraki as a usurper and pretender to the position of Senate president, adding that he had no moral ground to call for his resignation as the national chairman of the ruling party.
Oshiomhole said, “It is sad that Saraki, who just woke up from slumber occasioned by his crushing defeat at the Port Harcourt presidential primary election of his party, could degenerate to such a low level.
“It is equally sad, but not unexpected, that Saraki, who is politically drowning, would make such libelous comments against the national chairman of the APC. And I challenge Saraki to mention one name of an aspirant that gave money to the national chairman or we file a legal action against him.”
Oshiomhole said whereas, the basis on which Saraki made those comments “was tenuous and unjustifiable, it is on record that Saraki has been in the eye of investigations by the EFCC and the ICPC for sundry cases of corruption. That is the same man that has taken it upon himself to question Oshiomhole’s credibility.
“We challenge him to mention one person, who has claimed that he gave money to Oshiomhole to influence him and the decision of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in the just-concluded primary elections.”
But in a swift reaction, Saraki said Nigerians were eagerly waiting to see how Buhari would handle the serious allegations of bribery levelled against Oshiomhole, over the conduct of the just concluded primary elections in the party.
He described the threat by the APC national chairman to sue him over his statement that Oshiomhole ought to quit politics on moral grounds over the allegations against him, as an empty boast because he (Saraki) will be ready to meet him (Oshiomhole) in court.
Saraki said, “Nigerians are waiting to see how the president will handle the serious allegations against his party chairman. We expect the president with his anti-corruption campaign to institute thorough and transparent investigation into the allegations against his party chairman.
“The failure of the president to get to the root of the matter will finally destroy his ability and that of the party to continue to talk of any anti-graft battle. The president should let the investigation be thorough, open and transparent. This is no time for any cover-up.”
Saraki maintained that until the outcome of a thorough investigation is known to Nigerians, and the APC chairman is cleared of the allegations against him, Oshiomhole is not on a firm ground to talk about morality or fight against corruption.
Oshiomhole Accuses PDP of Sponsoring Allegations
In a related development, Oshiomhole has accused the top hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of orchestrating allegations of bribery against him.
He noted that members of the opposition political party were working in tandem with certain APC members to see to his exit from office.
The APC national chairman, in a statement by his media aide, Ebegbulem, added that while it makes sense for PDP members to be uncomfortable with the headache he has become to them, they won’t get away with any action that is capable of tarnishing his integrity.
He said, “It is curious to note that some elements in the top hierarchy of the PDP appeared to be too eager to see the exit of the APC chairman from office and may be working in tandem with certain APC members.
“While it makes sense for PDP to wish for cure for their headache that Oshiomhole has become, it should not be taken for granted that anyone can get away with any action that is capable of tarnishing the unassailable integrity of the APC chairman.
“We are aware that part of the strategies discussed in Dubai, where the PDP leaders recently visited and held their meeting, was to continue to dish out lies against top APC leaders with a view to distract the leadership of the APC ahead the 2019 general election. But they have failed because the national chairman and APC leaders are focused and will never be distracted.
“However, it is time these irresponsible lies stopped; otherwise, anybody who continues to make unsubstantiated allegations against the person and character of the national chairman should be ready to provide proofs in a court of law. It cannot be just a political game to smear the character of Oshiomhole by people whose track record is unenviable.
“We want the public to note that if the exercise of the APC primaries were to be about money-taking or money-making, the state governors, some of whom are embittered about the outcomes in their states, were in a better position to dish out mega bucks.
“But the NWC of APC under the leadership of Oshiomhole was motivated by higher ideals and the pursuit of noble democratic principles.”