The battle for the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives is taking interesting turns. Senator Danjuma Goje has stepped down for Ahmed Lawan, but Senate Ali Ndume insists he is still in the race.
Elsewhere, a civil rights movement on Thursday said it was in possession of evidence that establishe a clear case of alleged fraudulent dishonesty and abuse of trust against House of Representatives-Speakership candidate, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The group, under the aegis Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA), warned that Nigeria would risk reputation crises should Gbajabiamila be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 9th National Assembly.
Ndume told journalists shortly after Goje stepped down: “Nobody has invited me to the Villa for any talk, and there’s no cause for it at this moment in time.
“I’ll contest for the 9th Senate President position, Insha Allah on Tuesday next week”
However, Senate observers fear five days is a long time away for a change of mind.
Curiously, a known political foe of Senate President Bukola Saraki was full of praises for him Thursday on the floor of the chamber, some analysts say, on account of his desire to woo support from those sympathetic to him.
His words, “We have been together for the past four years in the 8th senate. We have at lots of time had cause to disagree with you (senate president), but I respect him for one thing and that is his unequal resilience and standing for what he believes in. Perhaps that was why he and I had some differences because I also stand for what I believe in, just as I try to take it to the end.
‘’In the course of that there would be disagreement, because you are Saraki and I am Ndume. But all I want to add is that throughout the four years I’ve never had differences with anybody consciously on personal basis. It is either what I think is right ran in conflict with the view of another person, but definitely not as a result of personality or the person involved.
‘’The 8th senate have so much grounds, made some mistakes in the course of those accomplishment. This is just as there other grounds yet to be covered, and I hope the 9th senate shall learn from the experiences of the 8th senate.
‘’My greatest concern is the independence of this institution, which is not to say that we should not work in harmony with the other arms of government; but it is incumbent on us not to compromise independence of the legislature which I see as the most dangerous thing coming our way in the next senate.
‘’The only difference between the rules of the military or any form of tyrannical rules is this institution or legislature arm of government. We need to support other arm of government but must avoid doing so by acquiescing or compromising the principle governing independence of the legislative arm of government.
‘’Yesterday I tried to look at the dictionary meaning of the term, ’senator’’ even though I am a senator. What I saw shows that those coming back and those not returning are called senators. There are no former senators, once a senator is a senator forever”.
The so-called Public Interest Lawyers faulted the refusal of Gbajabiamila to address the allegation of imprisonment, perjury and stealing levelled against him through a proxy and former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumuni Jibrin.
The Convener of COPA and human rights activist, Pelumi Olajengbesi, said in Abuja that the best option left now was for President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to undertake an in-depth investigations into the allegations against Gbajabiamila.
“COPA is in possession of all documents and evidences that establishes a clear case of (alleged) fraudulent dishonesty and abuse of trust against Femi Gbajabiamila. The facts (allegedly) against Gbajiamila are, in fact, readily available to the public as they were established in a Court of Record with same being accessible to the public, and are attached herein for the avoidance of doubt.
“We have established correspondence with the Supreme Court of Georgia and we have documents of Disciplinary Case No. S06Y0829 and the family of the victim of Gbajiamila’s fraud, Hadyatou Barry and also Vesta with P. O. Box 23410 Nashville TN, 31202, the insurance company that paid the claim misappropriated by Femi Gbajabiamila”, he stated.
According to him, such investigation by security agencies would “prevent Nigeria from embracing a reputation crisis even before the 9th National Assembly takes off.”
Olajengbesi said, “On Wednesday, June 5 2019, Nigerians were treated to a classic case of political masturbation when the touted candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Femi Gbajabiamila, chose to spit in our faces rather than respond to the weighty issue of fraud levied against him.
“For several weeks now, Gbajabiamila has been assailed with mounting cases. But, perhaps, in tandem with its public image of fighting corruption with insecticides when it concerns an opposition party members, virtually all the top echelon of the APC have continued to look the other way.
“Even Gbajabiamila adopted the same whimsical attitude, until a combination of civil society, opposition political parties and citizens’ outcry compelled him to promise a ‘world press conference’ during which he would tackle the issues.
“It was, therefore, with utmost shock that come the D-day, instead of having Gbajabiamila mount the rostrum, a motley crowd of APC lawmakers gathered at the elitist Transcorp Hilton, to instead trifle with the issues.
“As a coalition of public spirited officers in the temple of justice, we insist that nobody should be allowed to put his personal integrity at stake, least of all the image of Nigeria and Nigerians for a man who is being gripped with weighty allegations.
“We, therefore, call on President Mohammadu Buhari to live up to his reckoning as an anti corruption czar, by causing the nation’s security agencies to undertake an in-depth investigations into the Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila saga, so as to prevent the country from willfully embracing a reputation crisis even before the 9th National Assembly takes off.
“The entire defense raised in Femi Gbajabiamila’s behalf in said Press Statement relied on a book whose thorough, unbiased reading ironically actually proves his guilt as the book acknowledges ALL the material facts establishing his guilt in fraudulently appropriating to himself money meant for the victim of a car accident. No amount of half-truths and misdirection can acquit him of guilt thence.
“COPA restates its position that a Femi Gbajabiamila-led House of Representatives would be a moral burden on Nigeria and ridicule our legislative house before the international community. There is no doubt, with available facts and record, that the case of perjury against Gbajiamila would succeed except the parties withdraw the suit.
“A Nigerian Ambassador Tijjani Bande just got elected as the President of the 74th United Nations General assembly, a great accomplishment for President Buhari with regard to repositioning the image of Nigeria and restoring corresponding dignity and respect for our country, her citizens hone and abroad and our passport.
“Should we now dent this new achievement by endorsing a man who has been evidently convicted by Georgia State Supreme Court for acting dishonestly by appropriating $25,000 belonging to his client for Speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”