The Reformed-All Progressives Congress (R-APC) has alleged that the federal government has concluded plans to bribe senators with amounts ranging from N50 million to N150 million each towards changing the leadership of the national assembly.
The allegation came just as members of the Parliamentary Democrats Group in the House of Representatives also alleged that the acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had come under pressure from senators loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari to back their plot to “destabilise” the national assembly.
The national publicity secretary of the R-APC, Kassim Afegbua, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, said the aggrieved APC faction was reliably informed that the plot to induce lawmakers was hatched in the Maitama residence of an APC leader.
According to him, the decision to resort to the use of cash inducement was taken after some heads of government agencies and the APC leadership realised the futility of pursuing a legal option to force the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to resign.
Afegbua also claimed there was a plan to forcefully reconvene the senate and orchestrate the removal of Saraki and other principal officers to pave the way for a pro-Muhammadu Buhari senator, Abdullahi Adamu, to emerge.
He said, “Once the Senate leadership is overthrown in a coup d’état manner, the Senate will immediately consider the virement budget of the INEC and also approve the pending nominations in the Senate.
“Part of the plot was to reach out to some PDP senators, especially those who have EFCC queries in order to give them a clean bill of health once they defect to the APC. They also agreed to woo some senators with the sum of fifty million naira each.
In their own allegation, members of the Parliamentary Democrats Group in the House of Representatives claimed that the targets of the pro-Buhari lawmakers were senators and members of the House of Representatives, who recently defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.
In a statement in Abuja, the PDG alleged that Osinbajo had come under pressure to finance the plans of the Buhari lawmakers.
The statement, which was signed by the Chairman, House Committee on Legislative Budget, Mr. Timothy Golu, advised Osinbajo against allowing himself to be used by the senators for their agenda.
The group claimed that the “factional” national chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, was also aware of the plot and was supporting its execution.
According to the PDG, part of the plot is to intimidate the lawmakers who defected into returning to the APC.
“We are keeping vigil and ready to face them. We also warn the APC factional chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who seems to have reaped enough from democracy, yet is ready to destroy it.
“We have it on good authority that the Vice-President is set to dole out money from government coffers to sway members of the two chambers against their leadership, but this plan has already failed.
“We will resist it and ensure that the integrity, sanctity and independence of the National Assembly are upheld and members are allowed to freely associate with political parties that will enable them to deliver the dividends of democracy to their constituents.”
The group advised the acting President to maintain the integrity that goes with his position as the acting President and the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and disassociate himself from desperate politicians.
The allegations by the R-APC and the PDG came barely 24 hours after a former deputy publicity secretary of the APC and Mr. Timi Frank, made a similar allegation in which he claimed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had received a directive from the Presidency to release the money required to change the National Assembly leadership.
Timi Frank had made the allegation on Saturday. He claimed there was a plot to induce lawmakers at the federal level with amounts up to N150m each to effect leadership change. He further alleged that the money was to be sourced from the NNPC.
But the APC said both Frank and Afegbua were drowning men who in their futile attempts to dent the integrity of the APC government were making allegations which lacked basis in fact.
In a statement signed by the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, the APC said, “The reason why most of them are defecting is because the President Buhari administration is not sharing money which is the PDP’s philosophy.
“This administration cannot inject taxpayer’s money into impeaching the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives. This is a serious government and not (that of) a dead party called the PDP.
“The hierarchy of the APC has no business spending money to impeach these people because the APC still commands the majority in both houses. Since Saraki has gone back to where he came from, he cannot preside over majority APC lawmakers. Therefore, we will use our numerical strength to remove him following the rule of law.”
Reacting to the allegations on behalf of his colleagues, the senate majority leader, Ahmad Lawan, said, “If someone makes such a statement, you are supposed to press further on the person to give you evidence. You don’t call me to confirm the allegation. If he says something like that is happening, he must have evidence. But as far as I know, there is nothing like that.”
Members of the House of Representatives expressed shock at the allegations.
They wondered how President Muhammadu Buhari could be involved in a scheme to disburse such an amount of money to lawmakers.
The chairman, house committee on customs and excise, Mr. James Faleke, (APC, Lagos) said Buhari would never support the offer of public funds for any form of illegality.
Faleke, said, “I used to have so much respect for Timi Frank; but, if it is true he made such an allegation, then it’s most unfortunate. The President we have today is not the type that will take taxpayers’ money for this sort of venture.
“Frank should go and check his facts again and he should wake up from his dream. Maybe, he assumes that in the APC, we also dish out money recklessly the way the PDP used to do.
“In my position in the National Assembly, I think I should know if such a thing is happening or about to happen. I am not aware of it, never heard of it. I know it doesn’t even exist,” he added.
Another lawmaker, Mr. Sunday Karimi, (PDP, Kogi), asked how anyone would expect that the PDP members would take money to remove Saraki, a member of the party.
Karimi said “What purpose will it serve to collect money to give up a seat that you (PDP) are in control of already?
“What people should realise is the position of the law and by this I mean the constitution. To remove any presiding officer of the National Assembly, you will need two-thirds of all the members voting to approve it.
“You can’t get two-thirds in the Senate or the House without PDP members supporting it, assuming that all the APC members collect the money. I don’t see any PDP member who will support this.”
We’re not involved in any plot against Saraki – NNPC
The NNPC has distanced itself from the alleged plot to fund the removal of the Senate President.
The group general manager, group public affairs division of the NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, described reports linking the corporation to the alleged plot as the handiwork of mischief-makers seeking to drag the NNPC and its GMD into a purely political affair.
The NNPC said the report was not only false but also an affront to the reforms in the operations of the corporation.
Ughamadu described the allegation against the corporation as “fiction and outright tales by moonlight for anybody to insinuate that Baru or anybody else could take a dip into the corporation’s till and dole out funds for political purpose.”
The corporation urged members of the public and oil and gas industry stakeholders to discountenance the said story, noting that the management of the NNPC was committed to its statutory role and responsibility to the entire federation.