There is pressure on the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to drop his 2019 presidential ambition, The Eagle Online has learnt.
This followed the emergence of fact that plans have been concluded to emasculate him by giving him the “Atiku treatment” and arresting his associates and aides by anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The Eagle Online was told that following the decision of Saraki to seek for the presidency in 2019 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, foot soldiers of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has also said he would be seeking reelection using the same party, have decided to bare their fangs by moving against him through renewed corruption charges and doing same to his aides and associates, especially senators.
In fact, the account details of some senators, which have been made available to the EFCC, are already being scrutinised for infractions.
Already, Senator Dino Melaye, who some senators call the “undertaker” in the Senate, is believed to be undergoing his current treatment as a precursor to the unleashing of security and anti-graft agencies on them.
Some senators who spoke with The Eagle Online also said the decision to dig into the issues involving Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who was ordered remanded in Ikoyi Prison in Lagos in Wednesday, was in furtherance of the agenda.
The Eagle Online was equally told that Senator Aliyu Wammako may be the next target of anti-graft agencies although he denied the ongoing investigation by the EFCC.
It was gathered that a petition has also been written against Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, which could form the basis for his arrest.
The petitioner accused Kwankwaso, as the then Kano State Governor, of collecting contributions of N70 million from each of the 44 local government councils in the state, totalling N3.08 billion, towards his presidential primaries in 2015.
The petition against Kwankwaso was written by one Barrister Mustapha Danjuma and co. on behalf of Engineer Abubakar Maisha’ani and Alhaji Najumai Garba Kobo.
In addition, Saraki’s aide on International Relations, Bankole Omisore, who was accused of employment racketeering in the National Assembly, but has denied it, is also being targeted so as to put a hole in the publicity blitz of the Senate president.
Omisore, despite his new posting, is still actively involved in the management of Saraki’s image.
The Eagle Online gathered that the issue of the arrest of the senators was raised at the closed door session of the Senate on Tuesday, with the lawmakers saying they have been informed that anti-graft agencies are requesting for their bank statements from their various banks.
At the closed door session, which lasted for over three hours, pro-Saraki senators in the Red Chamber accused the Parliamentary Support Group, the pro-Buhari group in the Senate, of being behind the move, which they said is aimed at destabilising the upper chamber.
For Saraki, The Eagle Online was told that the “Atiku treatment” is being planned for him.
It would be recalled that when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar decided to run for the Presidency against the dictate of the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, several allegations of corruption were levelled against him.
However, none of them has been substantiated, with Abubakar pronounced not guilty by the courts.
In Saraki’s case, it was gathered that apart from the ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which the presiding Judge, Justice Danladi Umar, had dismissed but asked to reenlist, more allegations and trials are being planned.
A source told The Eagle Online that the calculation of those working against Saraki is that the tentacles should be spread very wide to include his aides, including those in opposition parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party, so that even if he decides to abandon the APC to seek the presidency on the platform of another party, he would have been sufficiently damaged.
It is in this light that some see the allegation against the Deputy President of the Senate, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, of failure to fully declare his asset.
There have been permutations that the PDP apart from considering Abubakar for its presidential ticket, is also looking in the direction of Saraki in case there is any rumple in the APC that will necessitate his exit.
In this light, a Saraki/Ekweremadu presidential ticket is being tinkered with, hence the decision to also ruffle the deputy president of the Senate ahead of the contest.
A highly placed source within the APC said pressure is being put on Saraki to put on hold his presidential ambition so that the plot to move against him will not disintegrate the party.
The source said: “We can see it coming.
“Though because of the many criticism of this administration, especially the person of the President, we have our fears for his candidacy, that it will not fly with many Nigerians, but if we allow the fight to burst into the open, the party will be in disarray ahead of the election.
“This is more so that one of the Governors from the North West, who also has his eyes on the presidency, is stoking the fire.
“What he has forgotten is that even if the President had decided he would not seek reelection, he will never get the party’s ticket.
“In fact, even his own reelection is not certain in his state.
“To avoid overheating the party, we are already looking at other options, including having another aspirant for the presidential ticket of the APC.
“It will be difficult with the incumbent seeking reelection, but we should not forget Obasanjo was almost going to lose the PDP’s ticket at the primaries when he was seeking reelection in 2003.
“The options are still open and we are talking.”
A source in the Presidency who equally pleaded for anonymity told The Eagle Online that those who are being quizzed now indeed have questions to answer and not for political reasons.
He said: “Let them go and face the anti-graft agencies and not begin to insinuate what is not.
“Buhari is not the kind of man to order anyone to chase people around for him.
“He remains the person to defeat in the 2019 election.”