Senate, Executive face-off: Saraki holds secret talks with Osinbajo
The Senate President Dr Bukola Sarakin has met with Acting President Yemi Osibanjo over some developments that occurred in the Senate during the week which included the suspension of consideration of further nominations by the Executive in protest against the retention of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The raging anger in the Senate during the week also resulted in some Senators’ consequent threats of possibly impeaching the Acting President.
The Senate President it was gathered met with the Acting President alone and without the paraphernalia of his office to underscore his commitment to rapprochement between the Executive and the National Assembly.
Sources disclosed that the Senate President took time to explain a few things to the Acting President, but the talks bordered on the clarification of a few misgivings, especially the rumour that he was planning to become the Acting President or instigating the Senate against the Presidency.
He was also said to have taken time to explain why the Senate wanted its resolutions respected in line with the principle of separation of powers.
It was equally gathered that the Thursday’s meeting between Osinbajo and Saraki was preceded by an earlier visit of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on Wednesday night.
Before his visit to Osinbajo, Odigie-Oyegun was said to have reached out to the Senate leadership, asking them to prevail on warring senators to tread softly so as not to plunge the nation into unnecessary crisis.
A government source said: “The APC National chairman came at a time the Acting President was about to have a meeting with a select group of government officials. He was asked to join the meeting, which bordered on the battle line drawn by the Senate.
“During the session, the APC National chairman said he had interacted with Saraki and advised the Senate leadership and Senators to ‘lie low’ and avoid anything that was capable of plunging the nation into crisis.
“Oyegun was also quoted as saying that APC could not understand why the party in power would be in opposition against itself.
It was however not confirmed if Oyegun’s intervention was responsible for the visit of the Senate President to Osinbajo.
There were indications yesterday that the Presidency had uncovered four planks on which the Senate was hinging its threats of impeachment.
One of them is the running battle between the Presidency and the Senate over continued stay of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, in office.
A reliable Presidency source said: “Intelligence report revealed that some senators have identified four issues to take the Presidency on.
These issues are insistence on the rentention of Magu; the renewal of the row between the chamber and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hamid Ali(rtd); the alleged denigrating comments of the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption(PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay and alleged constitutional breaches by the Acting President and the Presidency in general.
Although the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, told the party leadership that the impeachment kite caught him unawares and he swiftly overruled the senators behind it,but intelligence report indicated that “it was a kite flying agenda” by some senators.
The presidency according to sources did not wholly believe the defence of the Senate leadership.
“It is closely monitoring events and putting safety valves in place, including legal dimension.
“Part of the intelligence report showed that some senators had plotted the impeachment script before the Tuesday session.
“Those who tabled the motion were actually not aware that the Acting President had returned to the country.” Sources further revealed.
It was learnt that some past leaders (names withheld) had teamed up with the Acting President against the threats from the Senate.
“These leaders have told the Acting President to remain focused and ignore elements trying to cause political upheaval in the country.
“In fact, they assured Osinbajo of their support. These are leaders who the government thought had identified with the Senate.”
The tone for the impeachment process was set by two issues raised on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
The Senate had on Tuesday taken exception to the retention of the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and the Executive’s alleged non-compliance with the resolutions of the Senate.
The President of the Senate had said: “This is an issue that we have to once and for all address. We cannot pass laws and see that the laws are not being obeyed. This resolution must be obeyed by the Acting President; otherwise we will take appropriate actions and resolutions.”
On the same day, Senators Eyinanya Abaribe and Kabiru Marafa had under Point of Order asked the Senate President to become Acting President in the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Acting President, who was away for AU meeting in Addis Ababa.
Marafa said: “If the President is not around, the Vice President should act, and if the Vice President is not around, the Senate President, who is the number 3 citizen should become Acting President.”