Senate President Bukola Saraki has made fresh moves to reach out to President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, following the Supreme Court judgment on his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Supreme Court had on February 5 ruled that Saraki’s trial should continue at the CCT. The apex court had affirmed the propriety of Saraki’s trial at the CCT on 13 counts of false asset declaration.
In the 13 counts initiated by the Federal Government, Saraki was said to have made false asset declaration in his forms at the Code of Conduct Bureau as a two-term governor of Kwara State.
The CCT had on Friday said Saraki’s trial would resume on March 10.
It was reliably gathered that since February 5, Saraki had been making moves to indirectly reach out to Buhari and Tinubu.
A top government source, who confided in SUNDAY PUNCH, said Saraki could not reach out directly to Buhari on the matter because he knew the President’s disposition to such issues.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that the Senate President resorted to sending emissaries to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo when Buhari was on a six-day vacation and Osinbajo was the acting President.
The delegation was reportedly led by the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume.
The source said the Vice-President made his position and that of the President clear to Saraki’s emissaries.
He said, “Saraki knows the kind of person the President is and I think he won’t approach him directly on this matter.
“But yes, I can tell you that he is reaching out indirectly.
“He sent emissaries to meet with the Vice-President when the President was on vacation and the Vice-President was on the chair in acting capacity.
“The emissaries had met with the Vice-President under the cover of the developments about the 2016 budget.
“In the process, they put the issue of Saraki forward.
“Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, however, made it equivocally clear to them that the two issues could not be mixed. He told them that the issue of the budget was different from the trial of Saraki.”
Ndume had on Tuesday led some of his colleagues, including Dino Melaye, Abdullahi Adamu and Monsurat Sumonu to meet Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
At the end of the closed-door session, Ndume told State House correspondents that the meeting reviewed some developments in the polity, including the issue of the 2016 budget currently before the National Assembly.
While saying that it would not be a new thing if people read meanings into their visit, Ndume had claimed that his delegation did not discuss Saraki’s travails with the Vice-President.
He was however quick to rise in support of the Senate President when his opinion was sought on the calls by his colleagues in the Unity Forum that Saraki should resign.
“Are you saying that the Senate President should be convicted before the trial? In our constitution, you are considered innocent until proven guilty,” he had said.
For Tinubu, it was gathered that Saraki had reached out to not less than 10 opinion leaders and clerics to visit the APC leader at his home in Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Saraki and Tinubu fell out in June last year when he defied the directive of the APC and became the Senate President under controversial circumstances.
The Senate President further ensured that Tinubu’s preferred candidates were denied principal offices at the Senate.
The former governor of Lagos State subsequently broke all communication with Saraki, describing him in an open letter as an ‘indisciplined and disloyal man who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in soul.’
Another reliable source told one of our correspondents that Tinubu was not interested in Saraki’s latest peace moves.
He said, “Access from Saraki’s camp has been blocked. Tinubu has been disappointed in every way. It was the party that picked Ahmed Lawan. He was not Tinubu’s initial candidate but he did it all the same.
“So, he has decided to (wash his) hands and will not say a word again regarding Saraki.
“Efforts have intensified since Saraki’s recent CCT trouble but Tinubu has been out of the country. He has been in Guinea for the last five days.
“We have been informed that Saraki is working with a team of people in Ilorin that will storm Lagos. Top leaders there including Muslim clerics are being put together to visit Lagos and mediate on his behalf but Tinubu is not interested.”
He added, “There is no deal to be made anymore. Saraki never conceded anything. He did not give any of our people any principal position. He then went ahead to increase the number of Senate committees by fiat just to placate those that have been following him to court.
“Every concession was denied. The approval of ministers had nothing to do with Tinubu. It was purely between him and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Tinubu has moved on. He has been visiting African countries, supporting other democracies in West Africa.”
“Saraki should go and get good lawyers. As you can see, attempts to remove the CCT chairman did not work. Attempts to stop the trial at the Supreme Court have also failed.”
All attempts to reach the spokesperson for Tinubu, Mr. Sunday Dare, proved abortive as he did not respond to repeated telephone calls.
Saraki meets Buhari regularly — Aide
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuf Olaniyonu, said on Saturday that his principal had been having regular meetings with the President in recent times on national issues.
Olaniyonu, who spoke with one of our correspondents on telephone cited the most recent when both leaders jointly hosted the German President at the Aso Rock villa on Thursday night.
Saraki’s spokesperson however, said the regular parleys between Saraki and Buhari were purely on issues of national interest.
He said, “These two gentlemen hold two critical arms of government and they need to meet regularly to discuss issues of national importance.
“The issue of budget is there, insurgency and the economy generally. How can anybody think the Senate President will be seeking audience with the President on the issue of the CCT when there are serious national issues calling for attention?”
When asked if Saraki would reach out to the President, Olaniyonu said, “No comment.”
Before his recent moves to reach out to the President and Tinubu, Saraki had been facing renewed opposition from the Senate Unity Forum led by Senator Ahmed Lawan.
Lawan was supported for the senate presidency by the APC leaders and some party senators, while Saraki got the backing of all Peoples Democratic Party senators and some APC senators to emerge as senate president last year. Last week, the Lawan faction regrouped in a bid to force Saraki to resign.[Punch]