Presidency, NASS talks fail to stop Saraki’s trial

*Senators angry, spoil for war with Buhari’s nominees
*President won’t interfere with CCB, CCT, says Adesina

There were indications last night that the high-profile parley between the Presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday night failed to persuade President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Mr Femi Adesina, reiterated that the President would not interfere with the job of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“You know this president. You know that he plays straight. Anything that will amount to underhand deals, he will never be part of it.

“Buhari has said that he will not interfere with the Code of Conduct Tribunal trial and he stands by it,” he said.

However, competent sources confided in Vanguard that the NASS leadership led by Saraki himself, left the Presidential Villa disappointed, following what they see as Buhari’s refusal to shift grounds and wade into the trial of the Senate President, which is interpreted by his horde of loyalists in both the APC and PDP, as ‘political’.

One of the sources said that despite what appeared as a softening of stances by Buhari to call a meeting with Saraki, he did not even raise the issue of the CCT throughout the meeting, which lasted about two hours.

Vanguard gathered from reliable Presidential sources that Buhari was persuaded by two of his aides in the National Assembly to ‘formally’ interact with the Senate President, who has not enjoyed a warm handshake with the President since he assumed office as a result of political disagreement with the APC leadership.

It was learnt that the meeting was called at the instance of the two special assistants to the President in the Senate and the House of Representatives, who reasoned that such a parley would help facilitate a smooth relationship between the Presidency and the NASS.

It was also reasoned that the parley would help prepare the grounds for the lawmakers to approve the nominees whose names were submitted last week to the Senate for confirmation.

However, Vanguard learnt that Buhari carefully avoided the issue of Saraki’s ongoing trial by the CCT and concentrated on issues which he believes would move Nigeria forward and asked the lawmakers to key into such matters.

“At the end of the discussion, we discovered that the man had not changed his mind on Saraki and we felt a bit upset by the action,” a lawmaker said last night.

Apparently angered and disappointed by the attitude of the President, the Senators might have decided to vent their anger on the nominees sent in by Buhari for confirmation by the lawmakers so as to form his cabinet and get the government running.

Rising from the meeting with the President, the Senate rolled out a new set of stringent rules that might make it more difficult for most of the nominees to scale through the screening.

After the meeting with Buhari, the Senate President met separately with his loyalists while the PDP caucus in the Senate also met privately after which a new set of rules for the screening of the nominees was rolled out. While the Senate leadership stepped up requirements for the nominees to be screened by them, the PDP Caucus said they would not approve of the Presidential list unless the full complement of nominees from the 36 states of the federation was made available by Buhari.

But the Presidency last night denied suggestions that the parley between the National Assembly leadership and President Buhari was aimed at getting presidential intervention on the on-going trial of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

It insisted that the parley was purely a familiarization tour by the assembly men. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said that Buhari would never interfere in the trial of Saraki or any other person facing trial in the country.