Senator Dino Melaye, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in this interview with OKOSUN DENNIS, in Vicoria Island, Lagos, says that from his preliminary investigations, the accusation against Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is an affront on the integrity of the senate.
THE Supreme Courts has given the go ahead to the CCT to try the senate president. What was your reaction when you heard the judgment?
My reaction to the pronouncement of the judgement of the Supreme Court that the Senate President should go back to the Code of conduct for trail is very simple. The just shall live by faith. From my preliminary investigations, the whole thing is an affront on the integrity of the senate.
It is not all about the senate president; it is about the integrity and the institution of the senate. This is purely political and it emanated from the confidence of the senators to exercise their legislative powers to determining who will be their leader. That independent-minded posture of majority of the membership of the senate is what brought about the emergence of the Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President; that is what is necessitating this unnecessary brouhaha. I want to assure Nigerians that the matter will not be looked at as Bukola Saraki’s matter but will be seen as an affront on the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Our posture and style towards the whole episode would change. I assure you that we know that the Senate President would be vindicated at the end of it all. I want to say that the Senate will take the matter from now henceforth as a battle against the institution of the senate. But for you to know that it is more political than ever, the other group that lost to the Senate President in the battle for who becomes the President of the Senate instantaneously reacted and they were asking for the President to step down. That is to tell you that even when he has not be indicted of any crime, they have been calling for his resignation because that is what they want. They want to bamboozle him using the courts to harass him, thinking that maybe under pressure he would resign. The senate president will not resign. I want to assure Nigerians that he will spend his four years intact by the grace of God. I want to say that the battle to save him for, we in the senate is a battle of no retreat no surrender.
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Is there any rule in the senate that allows for the Senate President to “step aside” when being tried?
There is no rule in the senate rules that allows for the Senate President to step aside if he is being probed. Like I told you, it is a political case. It is either it is going to be settled politically or he will be vindicated at the end of the day. Because the processes that led to the filing of the case is faulty and they said ones the foundation is faulty then nothing can stand. Those asking for the senate president to resign or step aside are clowns, I say they are clowns. After four years, I will remind them again.
This could divide APC?
This has nothing to do with the party, as far as I am concern, the Senate President enjoys the loyalty of the senate, irrespective of party affiliations. The senate is already settling down and we are making progress like never before in the history of the senate. We are taking our legislative functions seriously like never before. For the first time we have legislative agenda, we are pursuing vigorously to ensure that we are not distracted. We are not distracted by unnecessary rhetoric and unnecessary cases; because we know and we are sure. This case is against the Senate and not against the person of the Senate president Bukola Saraki and anyone who try our capacity and capability shall be dealt with decisively.
Why does the Senate always go on recess each time the Senate President is on trial?
That is not true, there has been the time the senate president had gone on trial that the Deputy Senate President presided over the senate twice. So, it is not as if there is a deliberate plan to stop him from seating. He has presided over the senate two times now.
Don’t you think the Senate President might leave APC?
That will always remain in the realm of rumours. You cannot leave the house with a roof and then go under the sun. No one will leave light for darkness. The senate is the senate of the federal Republic of Nigeria. It is not the senate of PDP or APC every senator is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is how we behave.
What is your take on TSA?
The issue of the TSA is under investigation and review by the senate. So, I cannot comment on it.