The All Progressives Congress (APC) is reportedly planning to take advantage of various pending cases against senators before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to compel support for Senator Ahmed Lawan as the next Senate President.
Herald Nigeria learnt that APC leaders are worried over the influence of the outgoing President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who they believed is interested in who would succeeds him.
To prevent him from having any role to play and also destabilise the opposition, the party is considering having the EFCC arrest and detain him after his tenure officially ends and keep him until new principal officers are elected.
A top-ranking security official who spoke to The Punch in confidence, confirmed that investigations into Saraki’s earnings as Kwara State Governor and later Senate President were all part of a larger plot by the current administration to ensure the APC had its way.
Part of the plot was also the EFCC’s probe of Saraki’s property in Lagos and the interrogation of management officials of the National Assembly, including clerks of both chambers.
Acting on a petition jointly signed by over 3000 legislative aides, the EFCC grilled the officials on Wednesday over alleged corruption infraction and diversion of the duty tour allowances of legislative aides to members of the National Assembly.
They wrote partly, “We are reliably informed, Your Excellency, that the presiding officers of the 8th National Assembly are using the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Sani Omolori, to cover the alleged diversion of our entitlements and allowances.
“The clerk should have proceeded on pre-retirement leave in November 2018, having attained the mandatory 60 years and 35 years of service. He was allegedly served a letter to that effect by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.”
A source said, “The executive and, by extension, the APC are desperate to install Senator Lawan as the next Senate President, but they know that Saraki may frustrate their plans. With him in the upper chamber, the party may not succeed in its bid to have its candidate as the next Senate President.
“So, the ongoing investigation of Saraki has become a tool to be used for the advancement of their cause; the plan is for the EFCC to arrest Saraki and keep him out of circulation shortly before the inauguration of the National Assembly and the election of the principal officers.
“This was the reason the commission grilled the National Assembly clerk and other officials about the finances of the Assembly and other issues relating to the procedure for the election of the leaders of the 9th Assembly.”
Also speaking on the probes, another source noted that with Saraki out of the way, the plot against Lawan by other contenders to the Senate Presidency, like the former Senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume, and Senator Danjuma Goje, could easily be overwhelmed by pro-Lawan senators backed by the ruling party.
The source said, “The APC and top government officials have been having sleepless nights over the likelihood of Saraki (playing the) midwife and influencing the election of his successor because they fear he may continue to control happenings within the Senate, which may not augur well for the (Muhammadu) Buhari administration.
“This is why the APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and other party chiefs are not taking the issue of the emergence of the new principal officers with levity and they are ready to do anything to get their candidates into office.”
Herald Nigeria also learnt that senators who voted against Lawan may face serious consequences for their action as the anti-graft agency was poised to go after them.
“Senators who vote for Lawan’s opponent will not find it easy after the NASS inauguration because their business deals, constituency projects and other activities will be subjected to clinical investigations and we all know what this may mean for some of them,” another senior official revealed.
Reacting to the reports, acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, cautioned politicians against “dragging the EFCC into the National Assembly’s internal affairs,” stressing that the anti-agency was not a political organisation.
He stated, “Like the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, said, our investigation of any citizen is not personal and we are not after anybody. We invite or arrest people who have committed a crime, people who are corrupt. If you are not corrupt, we can’t arrest or detain you.”
When asked about the reported interrogation of Mohammed Sani-Omolori-led National Assembly management, including the Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Patrick Giwa, Orilade said he did not have information about it.