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BANKOLE'S TRIAL: PANIC GRIPS N' ASSEMBLY, MARK, OTHERS IN CLOSED-DOOR TALKS

By NBF News
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The political leadership and top management staff of the National Assembly yesterday met behind closed doors to review the ongoing trial of the speaker and deputy speaker of the sixth House of Representatives.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] had arraigned in an Abuja High Court, the former speaker, Dimeji Bankole and his deputy, Bayero Nafada on allegations of corruption while in office. In the course of investigating the former two presiding officers, the EFCC had grilled the Clerk of National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and Clerk of the House, Sani Omolori.

It was gathered that the decision of EFCC to use the two technocrats as prosecution witnesses informed the meeting of political leadership and the management of the National Assembly. Spokesman of EFCC, Femi Babafemi, confirmed that the submissions of both clerks sufficiently indicted former speaker, Bankole and his deputy, Nafada.

'The commission now hasmore than enough documented evidence to carry the prosecution of both Bankole and Nafada to fruition.' During the interrogations, it was gathered that the two officers were asked to prepare to serve as prosecution witnesses in the trials of the Bankole and Nafada. But members of the House appear panicky about the development, which they saw as a dangerous dimension to the unfolding drama of the trial.

Members who spoke on the development on condition of anonymity, decried the way EFCC was making the trials of the former presiding officers look like they were guilty before charging them to court.

'Judging from the recent happenings, what is obvious is that the National Assembly will not be the same in terms of image and reputation at the end of all these.'Remember the series of corruption related cases that had emerged since 1999 in the National Assembly and the havoc they had caused to the reputation and image of the National Assembly.' 'On the current issue, the EFCC invited some top management staff of the National Assembly including the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa and the Clerk to the House of Representatives, Mr. M.A. Sani Omolori, they were asked some specific questions about the allegations.

'The issues arising from that is that the EFCC wants to use the clerks as prosecution witnesses in the ongoing trial and what it portends is that the institution of parliament is being threatened because nothing happens in one of the arms of the National Assembly that the other is insulated from.

Members united in advising the leadership of the National Assembly not to sleep on the matter, particularly, the Senate president, David Mark, who is the chairman of the National Assembly. The outcome of the meeting of the political leadership and the management of the National Assembly was not made public, but it was learnt it had to do with the implications of using Maikasuwa and Omolori as prosecution witnesses in the trials of Bankole and Nafada.