The South-West zone of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has distanced itself from the position of its national president on the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The NANS president, Tijani Sheu, and some groups headed by the Director-General of Heritage Group, Katch Ononuju, had on Saturday in Abuja threatened to protest the trial of Mr. Saraki to foreign diplomatic missions in Abuja.
Mr. Saraki is being tried at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, for alleged false declaration of asset to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, and for operating a foreign account when he was Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2007.
The pro-Saraki coalition accused President Muhammadu Buhari of complicity in the travails of Mr. Saraki, insisting that the Senate President’s disregard for the directive of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in respect of National Assembly leadership tussle was the root of his trial.
But the south-west NANS, Zone D, brushed aside the position of its the national body. It maintained that rule of law should take its course and urged Mr. Saraki to submit himself for trial.
This development may have opened fresh dimension to the unfolding drama surrounding the travails of Mr. Saraki who has had to contend with hostilities, mainly from his party, APC, since his June 9 controversial emergence as the Senate President.
Speaking on behalf of the pro-Saraki group on Saturday night, Mr. Ononuju said: “Buhari lacks the political will to fight corruption. We are very worried with the turn of things.
“The action by the Senate to appoint its own leadership is the reason behind this witch-hunt. Accidents have been arranged for senators who supported Saraki. DSS have been used to trail senators. The current CCB should not exist. The current leadership came into office in 2010 and their tenure ought to have elapsed in April.
“The power that seeks to undermine our democracy and the Senate is gaining the upper hand. I want corruption to be fought, but we do not want a return to the days of Olusegun Obasanjo where arrests were targeted. The president makes appointments and does not refer them to the Senate for confirmation because he does not like the leadership there.
“Our democracy is under threat and that is why we are talking to Nigerians. Since Buhari took over, everything is going down. We are calling on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to protect the integrity of the courts by ensuring that injunctions are respected. We are marching to every embassy to tell them that our democracy is under threats.”
However, NANS Zone D, in a statement on Sunday by its coordinator, Okikiola Ogunsola, said “NANS as a body” had recently pledged its support for Mr. Buhari’s fight against corruption.
Earlier on September 2, the NANS President, Mr. Sheu, led students to Aso Rock Villa to pledge the support of Nigerian students to Mr. Buhari’s administration, particularly its anti-corruption campaign.
“Our position is that any individual or group charged or alleged to have participated directly or indirectly in misappropriation, mismanagement or acquired properties in a wrong way should submit to rule of law to take effect,” Mr. Ogunsola said.
He added that though the zone had respect for the national body; yet, as “an ideological zone, we would not in any way subject ourselves to any act by our national body that tend to undermine or coerce rule of law from taking its course.”
“We are stating in strong terms that our zone is not of the planned protest by the civil society group under the aegis of Heritage Group and NANS,” it said.
In a related development, the Deputy Publicity Secretary of APC, Timi Frank, has condemned calls, particularly by a group, Northern Ethnic Nationalities Unity Congress, for Mr. Saraki’s resignation as the Senate President in the wake of his trial.
Mr. Frank, a longstanding loyalist of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, dismissed the group as ignorant, non-existent and “impostor organization hurriedly packaged to do a dirty job at the behest of Saraki’s traducers, with the sole aim of assailing his towering image.”
“Where were they when Saraki was governor? Where were they when he was chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF)? Where were they when he blew the whistle on the fuel subsidy scam in the 7th Senate? Where were they when he contested and was elected Senate President?
“Let failed politicians not seek to make political capital from this set up against Saraki called asset declaration trial.”
Source: Premium Times