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Atiku says Saraki should be prosecuted, not persecuted

Atiku Abubakar (left) has warned the government to stop persecuting  Bukola Saraki (right) [Premium Times]

Atiku has warned Buhari to not use the powers of the state to persecute Saraki as a political opponent.

Atiku's warning comes on the heels of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleging that Saraki committed financial fraud during his eight years as Kwara State governor, as well as during his stint as the leader of the Senate.

The EFCC warned Saraki this week to desist from his "campaign of calumny against the EFCC and its leadership" after he accused the anti-graft commission of persecuting him because the Senate, under his stewardship, failed to confirm Ibrahim Magu as its substantive chairman.

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In a statement released on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, Atiku said even though there's nothing wrong with investigating someone of Saraki's stature, there is a huge difference between prosecution and persecution.

He accused the Buhari-led administration of targeting Saraki as a political opponent, and warned that powers of the state should not be employed for tyranny.

He said, "I am all for prosecuting the corrupt, but I believe it is wrong to use the instruments of state to persecute political opponents.

"Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the immediate past Senate President, is one of the most investigated politicians in Nigeria. 

"He has been investigated and prosecuted all the way to the Supreme Court and has prevailed against his accusers. It was expected that that should have been the end of the matter.

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"However, the revival of previously investigated cases, and the fact that Dr. Saraki was politically opposed to the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari seems to give strong grounds for objective bystanders to conclude that his current travails have gone beyond prosecution and are now tending towards persecution.

"The laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are made for all and we fought for democracy so that the powers of the state would not be used to suborn tyranny and oppression."

Atiku urged Saraki to stand firm and be comforted by the fact that Nigerians still hold the constitution higher than any other authority.

"I urge all Nigerians, and especially those tasked with upholding the constitution and the laws of the land, to note that silence in the face of oppression is akin to acquiescence. I, Atiku Abubakar, will always stand up for the constitution and Nigeria," he said.

As a member of Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC), Saraki engineered his election as Senate President against the party's wishes in 2015. This created constant friction with the Federal Government, leading to his eventual return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2018.

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When he left, he accused the Buhari administration of leading the nation towards a disaster and accused the APC leadership of persecuting him.

Saraki, who was Kwara governor between 2003 and 2011, shockingly failed to win re-election in the 2019 general elections.

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