In spite of fresh overtures with juicy committees, Senators opposed to the emergence of Dr. Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate were yesterday insisted on seeing through the ongoing trial of Saraki and the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu.
They also said it was too late to withdraw the petition that made the police to investigate the alleged forgery in the first instance.
Some members of the aggrieved Unity Forum asked Saraki to go beyond the shuffling of committees.
They said there could be an out-of-court settlement if Saraki respects the wish of the All Progressives Congress to concede some principal offices to members of the Unity Forum.
The two leaders are standing trial in the High Court of Justice of the Federal Capital Territory for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 (as amended).
Others in the dock with them are the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, and the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Benedict Efeture.
The trial has been adjourned to September 28 by Justice Halilu Yusuf of the FCT High Court.
In a deft political move aimed at reconciliation with the senators against him, Saraki on Thursday reconstituted some committees to accommodate his opponents.
The breakdown saw two prominent members of the Unity Forum, Sen. Kabiru Marafa and Suleiman Hunkuyi now given what was termed “strategic and juicy” committees.
The leadership changes in some committees are as follows: Hope Uzodinma (Customs); Adamu Aliero (Aviation); Oluremi Tinubu (Environment); Kabiru Marafa (Petroleum Downstream); Barau Jibril (Tertiary Education); Binta Garba (Women Affairs); Joshua Dariye (Public Procurement); James Manager (Solid Minerals); Eyinnaya Abaribe (Power); Suleiman Adokwe (Information and National Orientation); Suleiman Hukunyi (National Identity); Babajide Omoworare (Legislative Compliance); Baba Garba (Rules and Business) and Tijani Kaura (Federal Character).
The new deputy chairmen of some committees are Ahmed Ogembe (Marine Transport); and Phillip Aduda (Petroleum downstream).
A highly-placed source in the Unity Forum said: “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 ranking Senator said a principal officer met with him on Thursday and simply 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.
It was however gathered that some Unity Forum members who met after the the committees were shuffled have chosen to press ahead with the forgery case.
At the session, the members said Saraki was yet to “respect the wish of APC on the sharing of principal offices.
The source added: “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.”