Constitutional lawyer and former presidential candidate of Nigeria Advance Party, NAP, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite has said that Senate President, Bukola Saraki is on trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) because of some ‘certain interests’ within the APC who are not happy with Saraki’s emergence as President of the Senate.
He said that Saraki wouldn’t be on trial if he was just a senator of the Federal Republic rather than the country’s Senate President, adding that he believes Saraki’s prosecutors do not have a strong case against him else they would have approached the normal courts rather than the CCT.
He said: “It is obvious that they are not sure of their case, they are not sure of the tribunal and of the criminality they are charging this fellow for, that is the reason why they approached such a lame duck tribunal perhaps just to intimidate and to whip their victim to lying. In a way it is a kind of blackmail by the authorities because the prosecutors are not sure of their ground.”
The elder statesman added that if the ‘interests’ behind the trial hope to get Saraki removed from office by their actions they will need a stronger case because “the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) cannot get Saraki removed from office in the first instance. It is a political action that will fail and hopefully it must fail.”
Probed on why he doesn’t think the CCT is the right court to handle the case, Braithwaite said “I called it a lame duck because it is not suppose to do most of the things that we saw it doing. I don’t know if it has criminal jurisdiction, I am not sure but what I know is that if that is the way those after Saraki wanted to get him out of office, it will be very sad. Then it means that corruption is still very much driving the entire process.
“The 13 counts charge against Saraki can be criminal, no doubt, but then, why go to such lame duck tribunal? I hold the view that Saraki’s lawyers should just proceed to the Court of Appeal and have the whole dammed thing struck out, because it is null and void.
“If they are trying to get him removed from the office in this manner it will certainly back fire because to people like us, even though I do not belong to their party, it engenders sympathy for the man because I hate injustice. It doesn’t matter who the perpetrator of injustice is.”
Braithwaite further stated that whatever the consequences of the case are, “Nigerians are going to benefit from it because some people are already feeling and behaving as if they owned the country and government.”
“What Saraki is going through has more to do with the internal issues within the party(APC). But what I can see from the distance is that certain people within the APC are not favourably disposed to Saraki’s becoming the President of the Senate. Those who think because they bankrolled President Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence as their presidential candidate also felt that they should have their candidates in position of power. It is obvious to me that it is an intra party power play.”
He added that the reason the office of President of the Senate has always been engrossed in controversies since 1999 when the country returned to democratic rule is because of the enormous power vested in the office.
“It is part of the reason some of us have been agitating for restructuring of the country. The power of the Office of the Senate President is so enormous like that of the office of the presidency. The duties of the Senate President include approving appointments for the President, in other words if they don’t approve presidential nominees, it cannot have any strength, the President cannot make certain appointments. This will hold the President down. So the Senate presidency remains a very influential office,” Braithwaite said.
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