Senator Kabir Marafa, the spokesperson for the Senate Unity Forum, on Sunday, insisted that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, should be suspended with immediate effect for allegedly stirring controversies over the 2016 budget in order to blackmail President Muhammadu Buhari.
Marafa, also serving as the Chairman, Senate Committee on National Identity and National Population, told some journalists in Abuja that Saraki and his loyalists in the red chamber were using the budget controversies to protest his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Senate President, according to him, through the support of his loyalists, had been shouting at different times that the budget was missing, doctored or padded, hence, could no longer be passed as earlier planned.
He said, “Honestly speaking, if I am to comment on the controversy that has been trailing the 2016 budget in the Senate, I will say it is all the work of the fifth columnists there.
“We woke up one day and the Senate President just came and said there was no budget and that the budget was stolen, thereby embarrassing everybody. But the following day, the Speaker said his own was not stolen.
“Next, they said the budget is doctored; next, they said the budget is padded; next, they said there are discrepancies all over the place. We knew how they came into the leadership of the National Assembly or the Senate.
“Was it a coincidence that the issue of padding and everything just came up after the Supreme Court said go and face your trial?
“Suddenly, we started hearing that we cannot pass the budget as we promised, because there are discrepancies and so on and so forth.
“In a nutshell, all the noise about the budget is all about this issue of corruption trial or CCT trial. That is all; no more, no less.”
Marafa maintained that he cannot be punished or suspended by anyone in the Senate over the interview he granted and published in the Sunday PUNCH edition of February 7, having read the contents several times and became convinced that he did nothing wrong.
He said, “Nobody, I repeat, nobody in that Senate, can suspend me over those remarks I made in the said interview. Rather, it is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, that should be suspended by the Senate for turning things upside down within the last eight months.
“He started with the forgery of Standing Orders to illegally increase the number of standing committees in the Senate from 57 to 65 with attendant violation of ranking rules in their compositions.
“Above all, the Senate President should be suspended for refusing to resign as the Senate President in the face of trial on corruption charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and invariably battering the image of the Senate.
“… The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives us the right to say our opinion. We can air our views and nobody can deny us that one.”
Marafa, again, pledged to make himself available before the Senate Ethics Committee whenever he was invited because of his respect for the Senate as an institution.
He said that the Senate committee on ethics actually invited him to appear before it last week Thursday but that he could not make it because he was in Kaduna to commiserate with his friend, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, who lost his mother.
He, however, said he will surprise members of the committee whenever he appears before them that he was ready to bring before them all the misdeeds done within the last eight months in the Senate under the leadership of Saraki.
Reacting, the Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, told Punch that one of the senators loyal to Saraki would issue a statement on the matter on behalf of the Senate President.
Consequently, a statement was issued by Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, a Saraki loyalist, where he urged Marafa to stop creating distractions with frivolous allegations but should rather go and defend himself before the ethics committee currently investigating him.
The Senator, who is representing Kwara South Senatorial District, in the statement wondered why it was only Marafa out of the 109 senators in the red chamber, that had been attacking the Senate as an institution and his fellow senators.
He said, “There is something wrong about the fact that out of 109 senators, Senator Marafa is standing alone abusing everybody, perhaps to continue to get relevance.
“Like he is always advising others to do, he should go and defend himself before the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges and stop creating distractions.”
Ibrahim, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, said he would not exchange words with Marafa who is billed to appear before the Ethics panel on issues bordering on ethics, decorum and uttering of unguarded statements unbecoming of a distinguished senator.