Nigerian workers, under the umbrellas of the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, have asked the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, to vacate his office pending the determination of his case at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The workers, who spoke across the country with Punch Newspaper, said although Saraki is still on trial and has not been found guilty of the allegations against him, it is morally right for him to vacate his office as Senate President to defend himself.
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation is prosecuting Saraki for alleged false declaration of his assets at the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Saraki had, last Tuesday, stepped into the dock at the CCT in Abuja, where he was arraigned for false assets declaration charges.
He pleaded not guilty to all the 13 charges slammed on him by the CCB and his trial has been scheduled to hold on October 21, 22 and 23.
Leaders of the NLC and the TUC, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, said it had become necessary for Saraki to step aside from Senate presidency to answer the charges preferred against him.
Organised labour had on, September 10, 2015, held nationwide protests against corruption, while seeking death penalty for public treasury looters.
Labour said it was only by killing looters that the anti-corruption crusade being championed by President Muhammadu Buhari could succeed.
President of the TUC, Mr. Bobboi Bala, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said Saraki has a moral burden to resign.
He said, “Resignation is a moral burden on people. But if somebody feels that he will carry his cross, go to the courts and try to exonerate himself, he should be given the opportunity. But it would be too bad if at the end of the day, he is found guilty. It does not speak well of public office holders.
“In other climes, as soon as such things happen, people tender their letters of resignation. Obviously, it is a moral burden on him. We hope all politicians will begin to know that no matter how highly placed they are, one day, they will definitely have to account for their stewardship.”
Several chapters of the NLC and the TUC across the states also asked for Saraki’s resignation on Saturday.
The Chairman, TUC, Ogun State, Mr. Olubunmi Fajobi, told one of our correspondents that if it were in a civilised clime, the Senate President would have stepped aside to allow for free and fair trial.
He said, “As it were, the Senate President is sitting on a delicate seat. If it were a civilised society, he would have stepped aside to allow for a fair trial, so that he won’t allow his official position to influence the decision of the tribunal.”
Also, the Ekiti State Chairman of the NLC, Mr. Raymond Adesanmi, advised Saraki to step down from office.
He said, “If it were in other climes, he would have resigned. My advice for him would be to step down as the Senate President to answer the charges against him. If at the end of the day he is not found guilty, he could return to his position.”
Adesanmi’s TUC counterpart in Ekiti, Mr. Adesoye Adedayo, corroborated him.
He said, “Although the case against him has political undertone, I would advise him to resign to prove his innocence.”
In Cross River State, the Chairman of the TUC, Mr. Clarkson Otu, who noted that labour unions had yet to meet to take a definite position on Saraki’s trial, said the Senate President should resign his position.
He said, “This whole thing is politics. The said irregularities allegedly discovered in Sariki’s assets declaration are issues before the CCT, but having got himself involved in this controversy, he should quit as senate president based on moral grounds.
“If he does not quit, he will keep battling to retain that position. This is my personal view and not that of the TUC.”
The factional Chairman of the NLC in Delta State, Mr. Williams Akporeha, the state chapter of the union was in support of Saraki’s resignation.
“We are saying that he should step aside because he is facing trial that borders on allegations of fraud and misinformation. He should resign on a clean slate instead of his continued stay in office in shameless aberration,” he said.
In the same vein, Chairman of the TUC in Delta, Mr. Myke Arinze, said, “Senator Saraki should resign and set the record straight because he cannot be facing trial and be dictating as Senate President.”