The battle for the soul of the Nigerian Senate has taken another twist and turn as President Muhammadu Buhari is concluding plans to drop charges preferred against Senator Danjuma Goje by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), SaharaReporters can confirm.
Goje who had indicated interest to run for the senate presidency in the 9th Assembly on Thursday abruptly stepped down for Senator Ahmed Lawan, President Buhari's anointed candidate for the seat.
The move came days after the president vowed not to interfere with the leadership selection of the 9th Assembly.
In the frenzy of last-minute efforts for the president and his allies to have their way and say in what happens in the senate, Presidency sources who spoke to SaharaReporters revealed that the major bargaining chip for Goje was to get the president who is championing a so-called anti-corruption fight to exonerate him from financial impropriety in a two-fold manner which is to quash the case outright for lack of merit or to reassign the case to a new trial judge in other to prolong and weaken the case.
The Federal High Court which will sit in Jos on Friday will be presided over by Justice Babatunde Quadri.
A source within the EFCC confirmed to SaharaReporters that the lawyers for the EFCC in the matter are currently in Jos and have been put on standby for a directive from the presidency on Friday morning.
The office of the attorney-general had also been notified by Buhari to await a directive on whether to withdraw (nolle prosequi) or completely reassign the case.
Last April, the EFCC had filed a cross-appeal at the court of appeal sitting in Jos, against the judgment of a federal high court in Gombe State that partially upheld a no-case submission by the former governor-turned senator.
The anti-corruption agency is trying Goje and two others — Alhaji Aliyu El-Nafaty and Dokoro Gombe (alias S.M Dokoro) — on an amended N5 billion fraud charge.
The EFCC believed Goje, between September and November 2010, forged a document titled, 'Resolution authorizing His Excellency the Executive Governor of Gombe State to acquire a loan of N5,000,000,000.00 only', with Ref. No: GM/HA/RES/VOL. 1/17.
That resolution was alleged to have been signed by Shehu Atiku, Clerk of the Gombe State House of Assembly, with the intent that it be acted on as a genuine document by Access Bank Plc leading to a N5 billion-facility being obtained from the bank by the Goje administration “for infrastructural projects”.
EFCC said its investigations on the loan revealed that the purported resolution authorizing the loan was forged, pointing out that the approval did not pass through the right processes.