BY ISMAIL MUDASHIR,
At least, 9 out of 109 members of the Nigerian Senate are enmeshed in criminal cases, with nine of the cases at various stages of trials in courts, while one is still being investigated.
The number of the lawmakers represents 10 percent of the members of the upper legislative chamber, one of the bodies responsible for making laws for the country. The majority of the cases are related to allegations of corruption, running into billions of naira that the senators are accused of misappropriating.
About six of the lawmakers have been docked at various courts for trial on fraud charges, most of them former governors.
Two of the senators, however, are facing charges of forgery and drug offences, respectively, while the last one has been interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes, Commission (EFCC) over alleged fraud.
Among the lawmakers, are the leadership of the Red Chamber, chairs and deputy chairs of sensitive Senate committees.
Topping the list of the senators facing corruption charges is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki (APC, Kwara Central). Saraki is a two-term governor of Kwara State (2003 to 2011) and on completion of his tenure, he got elected to the Red Chamber. At the moment, he is a 2-term senator and the number one lawmaker in the country.
Saraki as the Senate President is the chairman of the National Assembly, piloting the affairs of the legislative arm of government; he sets the tone and direction for the arm.
He is facing a 13-count charge at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) bordering on false assets declaration while he was the governor of his home state and his spouse, Mrs. Toyin Saraki has a file at the EFCC over alleged squandering of Kwara State funds.
He has denied the allegations, describing them as politically motivated
His bid to stop the trial at the CCT suffered a setback at the Supreme Court last week, when the court dismissed his appeal and upheld an earlier decision by the Court of Appeal, ordering him to face trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
His colleagues, under the auspices of the Unity Forum, led by Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central) had asked him to resign and face the charges. But the Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume and his supporters in the Like Minds group said he would resign only if he is found guilty after trial.
The CCT has fixed March 10, for the continuation of Saraki’s trial.
Ahmed Sani Yarima
Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima is a three-term senator and former governor of Zamfara State. He represents Zamfara West Senatorial District in the Senate.
Yarima is the Chairman of Senate Committee on Marine Transport and a member of other committees, including Interior that oversees the police, prisons, immigration and the fire service.
In January, he was docked on a 19-count charge of corruption by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) at the Zamfara State High Court in Gusau.
The commission accused him of diverting part of the N1 billion project funds for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and resettlement of the victims of flood to other purposes.
The alleged offences were committed in 2006 and mainly in October and November of that year, according to ICPC.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Danjuma Goje was the governor of Gombe State from 2003 to 2011. He is presently representing Gombe Central Senatorial District.
Goje is a second termer at the Upper Chamber representing Gombe Central. Aside from chairing the Senate Committee on Appropriations, he is the chairman of the North-East Caucus of the National Assembly, making him to wield enormous powers at both chambers.
The senator, along with four others, is facing an 18- count charge bordering on conspiracy and fraud to N25bn instituted by the EFCC.
The case was transferred to Jos from Gombe in 2015 on the instruction of the Chief Justice of the Federation over security concerns. Hearing in the case was adjourned to April 12 this year.
Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu was the governor of Nasarawa State from 1999 to 2007. He represents Nasarawa West Senatorial District and is the Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture.
In Feb 2010, the EFCC arrested the lawmaker for allegedly misappropriating N15billion alongside 18 others.
He was subsequently arraigned on a 149-count charge of fraud to the tune of N15 billion, before Justice Ibrahim Buba, who was later replaced in the case by Justice Marcel Awokulehin.
The lawmaker and his co-accused denied all the charges and challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try the case, arguing that the money in question belong to the people of Nasarawa State and therefore does not fall under the purview of the Federal Government and the EFCC to investigate and prosecute.
The court, however, ruled against the accused persons and ordered them to face trial. The lawmaker and his co-accused subsequently appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeal sitting in Markudi, Benue State.
The case is yet to be concluded.
Abdulaziz Murtala Nyako is the son of former Governor Murtala Nyako. He represents Adamawa Central Senatorial District in the Senate.
He is a first timer in the Red Chamber and he chairs the Committee on Special Duties, which oversees the general affairs of the Senate President, Ecological Fund, among others.
In July last year, the EFCC docked Abdulaziz and his father, the former governor of Adamawa State, at a Federal High Court in Abuja cases of alleged corruption.
They were arraigned before Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.
Also charged with them, were Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba. They were accused of using five companies to siphon over N15billion at various times, between 2011 and 2013, from Adamawa State coffers.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Joshua Chibi Dariye
Joshua Chibi Dariye is the senator representing Plateau Central. He was the governor of Plateau State from 1999 to 2003 and was reelected in 2003, before he was impeached in 2006.
He is the chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals.
Dariye has been standing trial since 2007 on a 23-count charge bordering on money laundering, abuse of office and corruption. He was accused of embezzling over N1.2billion ecological funds.
He has denied all the charges.
Next to Saraki at the Upper Chamber is Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West) who rode on the division in the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Senate to emerge as the Deputy Senate President on June 9 last year, when the 8th Senate was inaugurated.
Ekweremadu, who has been occupying the position since the era of Senator David Mark in 2007, is facing a forgery case at the Federal High Court.
His colleagues, namely Senator Abu Ibrahim, Kabiru Marafa, Robert Boroffice, Gbenga Ashafa and Suleiman Hunkuyi, dragged him and others to the court over alleged forgery of the Senate standing orders, the document used for the conduct of the Senate elections.
Shortly after the inauguration of the 8thAssembly, he was grilled alongside the Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasau and others by operatives of the Nigerian Police over the forgery case.
The Federal High has reserved date for judgement in the case.
Early this year, Ekweremadu cried out that he cannot get justice from Justice Ademola, alleging that the judge is romancing with the national leader of the APC, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Senator Kashamu Buruji is representing Ogun East. His clash with the former President Olusegun Obasanjo popularized his alleged drug peddling case.
He is facing a threat of extradition from the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), acting on the request of the United States.
In May 2015, a Federal High Court in Lagos stopped the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Attorney General of the Federation(AGF) and nine others from arresting the senator for extradition to the United States over alleged drug-related offences.
Justice Okon Abang gave the restraining order in his verdict in a suit filed by Kashamu.
He based his order on an existing judgement of the court that was delivered on January 6, 2014, in which he restrained the IGP, SSS, NDLEA, NCS and the AGF from taking any step from arresting Kashamu on the strength of a petition linking him to a drug offence.
Buruji, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on States and Local Governments, raised alarm last week over fresh plot to ferry him to the United States of America (USA) by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
He got a reprieve from the Senate as the Minister of Justice, and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and NDLEA have been asked to suspend further action on him.
His lawyer, Barrister Ajibola Oluyede had petitioned the Senate over a plot to abduct his client and extradite him to the USA where he is facing charges bordering on drug peddling.
Godswill Obot Akpabio
Widely known as uncommon governor when he held sway in Akwa-Ibom State for eight years, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio (PDP, Akwa-Ibom North-West) is being investigated for corruption.
By virtue of his position as the Minority leader, Akpabio is one of the most powerful senators presently in the Upper Chamber. He has firm control of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Red Chamber.
Akpabio, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, was twice invited by the EFCC last year, over allegation of N108bn fraud.
The invitation was in connection to a petition by an Abuja-based lawyer and activist, Leo Ekpenyong, who accused the senator of looting the said amount belonging to the Akwa-Ibom government and called for his probe.
The Minority Leader has, however, described the allegation as a falsehood bandied about by people with no idea about the workings of government.