Several reasons may have been adduced for the travails of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki but whatever may be responsible the fact remains that it has snowballed into multiple battlefronts for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Not minding allegation of perceived political persecution, in the public domain, he is facing charges of alleged corruption and criminal conduct arising from irregularities in asset declaration as at his tenure as governor of Kwara state.
But generally, the entire scenario smacks of part of intense political manoeuverings and game in the battle for the soul of the All Progressives Congress (APC). And this battle for supremacy, which initially had clear-cut boundary – pro-Saraki and anti- Saraki camps – has since dispersed into different fronts.
In Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central in the Senate on the platform of the APC had been very critical of the administration of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in the state.
In fact, Sani, believed to be fed up with the alleged posturing of El-Rufai was reported recently to have told the governor to stop his antics as there was no vacancy at the Aso Villa come 2019. The senator was quoted as saying that El-Rufai should forget his scheming for the presidency, as President Muhammadu Buhari would still be available.
The Governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso are at loggerheads and the once united political family is now divided and looking separate ways.
The result is that the Kwankwasiiyya’s movement, which held sway in Kano with Kwankwaso as the undisputed head now has Gandujiyya Akida, headed by the incumbent governor, to contend with. Ganduje is stated.to be opposed to Kwankwaso’s bid for presidency in 2019 and that he would rather stick to Buhari.
Although Ganduje was reported recently as saying that he would soon reconcile with Kwankwaso, most members of the Kwankwasiyya group have dumped the red cap symbol in solidarity and identification with Gandujiyya Akida.
In Adamawa, Murtala Nyako and the state governor, Muhammadu Jubrilla, both of APC are slugging it out over the same 2019 presidency race. Nyako is with Buhari while the governor has pitched tent with former Vice President, Atiku Abubarkar.
The grumblings amongst members of the APC in the Southwest has been increasing. The members are believed to be dissatisfied and frustrated by the Buhari’s “style of administration” and have intensified consultations on the way forward.
Although loyalists of the national leader and fomer governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu were quick to deny any rift between him (Tinubu) and Mr. President, some admitted that Tinubu’s body language has encouraged the followers to continue in the quest for a way out of the political quagmire.
The Guardian learnt that the tussle for supremacy and the frustrations have pushed the groupings in the APC back to the old format of Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change and Peoples Democratic Party.
However, the high-profile status of the Saraki’s CCT case has made it to take the front pew and the APC dilemma is in Saraki’s stranglehold on the Senate.
Two times, members of the Red Chamber passed a vote of confidence on him with over 80 votes on each occasion indicating that he has the backing of many of the members cutting across the different political parties.
But the question is why is Saraki afraid to face the law? His political associates and aides would not take that insisting that their principal was prepared to submit himself to the rule of law in so far as the there were no double standards in the enforcement.
“Saraki is not avoiding trial but avoiding persecution. If this case was honestly based on the laws of Nigeria and the fight against corruption, Saraki being the Chief Law Maker in Nigeria today would readily submit himself to trial confident that his innocence would be enough to vindicate him”, one of the associates told The Guardian.
In particular, they alleged that he was being persecuted by forces in his party, which believed his emergence as Senate President against their preferred choice puts him at loggerheads with them even though they were supposed to be fellow party members.
What has fuelled the allegations of double standards and persecution in the Saraki’s camp, according to them was that the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, who presided over the case of Tinubu and dismissed the case on the basis of condition precedent not being followed, was the same person closing his eyes for the same circumstances in Saraki’s case.
Apart from the Charges of Asset Declaration Falsification against the incumbent Senate President and the ones filed against former Governor of Lagos State, there are other similarities in both cases.
Tinubu had 69 lawyers that represented him while Saraki has 66 lawyers defending him a t present and Tinubu’s case no was CCT/ ABJ/ 01/ 11 while Saraki’s case file no is CCT/ ABJ/ 01/ 15.
In the Tinubu’s case, Umar ruled on 30th November 2011 that: “On Section 3 (d) (of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act), I feel compelled by the argument of the learned SAN for the accused. It is a condition precedent for referring a charge to this Tribunal that the Accused ought to have been invited to either deny or admit the allegations against him. This is missing in this case, as the complainant has no such evidence of a prior invitation.
“It would be proper for me at this stage to simply decline further exercise of jurisdiction having held that the condition precedent to the instituting of charges against the Accused has not been complied with. I hereby resolve this issue in favour of the Accused…”
But while the Saraki camp tend to question the double standard over the application of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and CCT Act, the prosecution led by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) claimed that the defence was relying on an obsolete law, the 1979 Constitution which has been supplanted by the 1999 Constitution.
Besides, the prosecution asserted that the CCT was misled in the Tinubu’s case in taking a wrong decision.
Will the Nigerian justice sustain fairness and equity between these two prodigious APC chieftains or will one be preferred over the other. That is one of the questions that the CCT will have to answer at the end of the day.