‘Juicy committees are not enough, Saraki should bend more’ | Unity Forum presses on with forgery case

Despite moves by Senate President Bukola Saraki to reconcile with the aggrieved members of the Senate Unity Forum by offering them chairmanship of ‘juicy’ committees, the forum has refused to withdraw the forgery case against Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.

According to The Nation, the group said that the case has gone beyond them as it is now with the federal government and that the petition written by them to the police cannot be withdrawn.

The report said that some members of the Unity Forum had requested Saraki to go beyond reshuffling of senate committees, saying that Saraki should appoint members of the forum as principle officers of the Senate.

A source within the Unity Forum told The Nation that “Since the reshuffling of some committees on Thursday, I have lost sleep because Senators loyal to Saraki and Ekweremadu have been mounting pressure on us to forget about the case in court.

“One of the loyalists said since the issue of committees was part of the conditions for peace; we should embrace Saraki and Ekweremadu. The pro-Saraki elements claimed that they are ready for more concessions.

“It appears the shuffling of the committees was a masterstroke to divide the Unity Forum. But they cannot break our ranks.”

Another member of the Unity Forum told the paper that a principal officer from the south east came to him on Thursday and asked ‘Now that we have reconstituted the committees, will you people (Unity Forum) help us resolve this case now?

“The emissary from the South-East was eager to extract a commitment from me and some members of the Unity Forum with me.

“I reminded the principal officer that the ball is in the court of the Federal Government which is prosecuting the case.”

However, information gathered showed that members of the Unity Forum had met after the committees were reshuffled. They however decided to pursue the forgery case againstSaraki until “respect the wish of APC on the sharing of principal offices.”

The source further said, “When we met on Thursday night, we weighed all options and concluded that Saraki has not demonstrated substantial readiness to reconcile with the Unity Forum.

“He redeployed a key and effective member of this forum, Sen. Babajide Omoworare from Rules and Business to a redundant committee. Some Senators were really shocked because Omoworare is a team player.

“The appointment of committee chairmen is not far-reaching because any Senator’s choice is at the discretion of Saraki.

“We can resolve the crisis but after this step, Saraki may reshuffle all the committees again.

“We are at his mercy on committees. Saraki has the sole right to constitute committees without deferring to Senators.

“If we go back on this case because of appointment into committees, we would have proved to Nigerians that we were pursuing the case for selfish reasons.

“We are however committed to peace in the Senate. We concluded that if Saraki is serious, let him respect the wish of APC leadership and heed the advice of President Muhammadu Buhari in choosing principal officers

“In a letter to Saraki, the APC leadership made the following recommendations: Senator Ahmed Lawan (Majority Leader)–North-East; Prof. Sola Adeyeye (Chief Whip)–South-West; Sen. George Akume (Deputy Majority Leader)—North-Central; and Sen. Abu Ibrahim(Deputy Chief Whip)—North-West.

“And of course, it is not out of place to make Ali Ndume the Deputy President of the Senate to replace Ike Ekweremadu.

“Even Senators like Ndume are ready to sacrifice their posts for the unity of the Senate if Saraki can bend more to accommodate all.

“You never can tell, we can all decide that Ekweremadu should remain in office if the rapprochement is accommodating.

“If the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara could comply with the directive of the party, Saraki should also do so.

“In fact, we can begin to talk of out-of-court settlement or ask the Judiciary to allow us to address the case at hand internally.”

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