Senate Crisis: APC Governors Divided Over Saraki

Senate-president-bukola-saraki

There were strong indications that the All Progressives Congress governors on Friday failed to take a decision on the crisis rocking the party’s caucus in the Senate.

Saturday PUNCH reliably learnt that the governors, who met in Abuja late Thursday evening, were divided over how the crisis should be handled.

Investigations showed that some of the governors argued that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, should apologise to the party at a meeting to include its leadership and members of the opposing sides in the crisis.

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But it was learnt that others differed on the grounds that governors should await the decision of the Ministry of Justice on the police report on the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015.

The police, in the report sent to the Ministry of Justice on Monday, established that the standing orders used for the inauguration of the eighth Senate were forged.

In its recommendations, the police reportedly stated, “This practice, where some group of senators amends the rules of the senate without following legal procedures, is not only criminal, but portends danger for our growing democracy and should be discouraged.”

The police asked the justice ministry to vet the report and determine whether it constitutes a criminal offence or should be treated as an internal affair of the Senate.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that some governors, who seemed to favour Saraki, canvassed for a quick resolution of the crisis.

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The governors, who were said to have included Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, reportedly warned that any delay in resolving the crisis would impact negatively on the party and the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The governors suggested that a meeting of parties to the crisis should be convened in the next one week, where Saraki should apologise to the party leaders and the President.

It was learnt that there were others, including the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who said the forum should wait for the decision of the justice ministry on the forgery of the Senate Standing Orders.

Such governors were said to have argued that Saraki twice violated the constitution and defied the party’s leadership.

They were said to have cited the forged standing order and the disregard for the party’s directive on the appointment of principal officers.

It was also learnt that at the meeting, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who headed a peace committee set up by the governors on the crisis, briefed the forum on the efforts so far made by the panel to resolve the issue.

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Investigations shared that the Oshiomhole-led committee lamented that the crisis in the Senate was dragging too long.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak to the media about the meeting, said, “The governors have not taken any decision on the senate crisis. Saraki’s repeated disrespect of the party does not help the matter. At the meeting, some governors expressed the view that the crisis should be resolved once and for all, while others were not happy with Saraki’s disrespect for the party’s leaders, including the President.

“Such governors insisted that the forum should wait for the decision of the justice ministry on the police report on the forgery of the 2015 Senate Standing Orders. They prefer the prosecution of everyone involved in the forgery.”

It was learnt that the governors, who were not happy with Saraki, argued that treating Saraki’s case with levity would set a bad precedence in the party.

Governors working to resolve the crisis – Oshiomhole’s aide

A source close to the Kaduna State Governor, when contacted, said, “We are not in a position to be responding to unofficial accounts of closed-door meetings.”

Also, the Special Adviser to Tambuwal, Imam Imam, told Saturday PUNCH on the telephone that, “The meeting was a meeting of APC governors. It was convened at the behest of the Imo State Governor (Owelle Rochas Okorocha), why don’t you speak to them?”

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But the Special Adviser (Media) to the Edo State Governor, Kazeem Afegbua, said his principal who was still in Abuja, as of the time he spoke to one of our correspondents, was working round the clock to ensure an amicable solution to the crisis.

Afegbua said, “His Excellency is still in Abuja. I am sure they will continue to meet until all the issues that are left are resolved.”

Also, the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Saliu Lukman, expressed confidence that whatever issues that were left would be resolved soon.

“You should trust what our governors told you last night, total peace will soon return,” he said.

Peace to return to N’Assembly soon –Okorocha

The Chairman of the PGF, Okorocha, after the meeting early on Friday, also said peace would soon return to the Senate.

The meeting, which started at 9:13pm at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, ended at about 12:26am on Friday. It was attended by 14 governors and two deputy governors, as well as the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Okorocha, who spoke to journalists after the meeting, said, “We are very happy about the development in the House of Representatives as peace is gradually returning to the National Assembly.

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“We are very happy that what has taken place in the Federal House of Representatives will soon take place in the Senate and we resolved to make our party bigger and bigger than it is now. So, we welcome interested parties to join us in building the Nigeria of our dreams.”

Responding to a question on what transpired at the meeting, Okorocha said, “Peace will return; we hope that very soon, we will see total peace as we saw in the Federal House of Representatives.”

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