At about midnight of Monday, August 6, 2018, 30 senators elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) converged on a property in upscale Abuja with two objectives in mind—begin gathering signatures for the impeachment of Senate President Bukola Saraki and put finishing touches to the plot to impeach Saraki.
On paper, it looked an easy enough plan. As far as they were concerned, Saraki had to leave the position of senate president. And the sooner, the better. The Kwara born politician had not only defected from their party, he had gone on to call the APC all sorts of names.
A top ranking source in the presidency told that the now sacked Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Lawal Daura, was well aware of this plot and had been mandated to play his part.
Daura would go on to leak this plot to Saraki’s camp, Pulse was told on conditions of anonymity, because these officials had not been granted permission to speak to the press.
Daura was then told to dispatch about 40 DSS personnel to the national assembly complex to thwart not just a potential impeachment plot, but a pre-planned emergency meeting summoned by Saraki a day earlier.
At the time of writing, no one knows who in the chain of the nation's command, ordered Daura to deploy masked DSS operatives to the national assembly.
“The gathering of the APC senators for Saraki’s impeachment reached the senate president much earlier maybe because walls have ears”, a source who was privy to the entire plot, told Pulse.“Saraki also knew that the DSS would be deploying personnel to the gates of the national assembly on Tuesday morning and decided to remain a step ahead of the APC plotters by sounding the alarm to all PDP senators to show up at the national assembly in order to stop the APC senators dead in their tracks”.
Change of meeting venue
However, the APC senators changed the venue of their meeting twice on Tuesday morning. They had chosen the Sheraton Hotels for the clandestine meeting. When journalists got wind of the information, the APC senators abandoned the Sheraton hotel for a concealed bungalow on Aso Drive in upmarket Abuja.
The Aso Drive venue of the meeting was a row of cars and stern looking police officers when Pulse arrived the scene on Tuesday. Only card carrying APC members were allowed into the apartment that was hidden from view.
However, insiders at this meeting would later tell Pulse that the APC senators went about the task of collating the signatures for Saraki’s impeachment after the brouhaha at the national assembly.
“We wanted to really remove Saraki today, but the DSS spoilt everything”, an APC senator who wanted his name left out of this story, told Pulse afterwards. “Both camps of senators were just supposed to walk in quietly. We don’t know who asked the DSS boss to send his men to the national assembly. Once he did that and pictures and videos began circulating on the internet, we decided to abandon our plan to convene at the national assembly”.
As the plan to impeach Saraki crumbled like a pack of cards on Tuesday, Acting president Yemi Osinbajofired Daura as DG of the DSS.
The next ranking official in the DSS hierarchy, Mathew Seiyefa, was summoned to Aso Rock at about 4pm on Tuesday and asked to resume duties as the new Director General of the DSS.
Pulse has also been told that Osinbajo was locked in phone conversations with President Muhammadu Buhari as the whole national assembly drama played out. Buhari gave Osinbajo his blessings to relieve Daura of his job, Pulse has learnt.
Buhariis away in London for a 10-day working vacation and is due back in Nigeria next week.
“It was a difficult decision for both men to take, because Daura was practically called from retirement by Buhari to take this job and he is close friends with Buhari. As a matter of fact, he is a member of the so called cabal in the presidency, but his cup was full after the events at NASS”, a spokesperson in the presidency shared.
Pulse has learnt that the moves to impeach Saraki will now be left on ice for the moment and the plot will resume after some calm has returned to the polity.
“We’ll eventually impeach Saraki, but after yesterday, we have to take our time and make sure no one in the room is leaking the plans. But Saraki is as good as gone. I’m sure he knows that now”, the APC senator disclosed.
Collecting signatures for Saraki's impeachment
Pulse has been told that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was tasked with collecting the signatures for Saraki’s impeachment and that the APC has settled for Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North) as Saraki’s replacement.
The APC requires two-thirds majority--about 76 or 73 senators from both sides of the aisle--to pull off Saraki's impeachment.
As the dust settled on a day when masked gunmen formed a cordon at the national assembly gates,Saraki said he was well aware of the plot to have him impeached.
"It is not clear what the plan of the government is but information reaching us indicated that some senators who are pro-executive arm are being camped somewhere here in Abuja and they are being compelled to sign an impeachment notice that would later be brought to the assembly complex.
"The senate chamber will now be forced open to enable an illegal change of leadership take place in the senate.
“Therefore, we call on members of the international community to view this development as a coup against democracy. This is a throw-back to the inglorious days of military rule where dissent is not tolerated and freedom of association and other fundamental human rights are willfully and carelessly violated.
"We urge Nigerians and the international community to condemn this illegal invasion of the national assembly complex and the attempt to asphyxiate the legislature as undemocratic, uncivilized and irresponsible", the senate president said.
APC and presidency deny involvement
The APC and the presidency have denied being behind the deployment of masked DSS personnel to the national assembly complex.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo described the “unauthorized takeover of the national assembly complex as a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order".
Osinbajo added that “the unlawful act which was done without the knowledge of the presidency, is condemnable and completely unacceptable”.
In a statement signed by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, the APC said “our party remains a law abiding political organisation and advises every constituent part to abide by the tenets of our constitution and our democracy.
“Whilst our contention with the leadership of the National Assembly as currently constituted is a matter of public record, we still believe that the legislature as an independent arm of government must be allowed free reign for vibrant contestation of ideas and values amongst its members within the context of their constitutional mandate and for the benefit of the Nigerian people”.
The APC also called on “the senate president to resign from the position immediately as he no longer has the moral and legitimate ground to occupy that position as a member of the minority PDP”.
The APC said its lawmakers “were elsewhere” on Tuesday morning, “holding a caucus meeting on the state of the nation”.