IS BUKOLA SARAKI STANDING TRIAL AGAINST THE STATE OR AGAINST HIS PARTY?
The sunset period of Nigeria's democracy is fully underway, and Nigerians seem to be sleeping as it is happening. The turning point of democracy in Nigeria occurred at the polls that saw the emergence of our President, Muhammadu Buhari, who represented the hope and aspirations that Nigerian's yearned for being rekindled.
Any student who did Social Studies in primary school will know that our system of government is comprised of the executive, the legislative, and the judicial arms. These three arms – though inter-related, complementary, and inter-dependent – are independent in their abilities and functions.
However, given the infiltration of certain elements into the executive and judicial arms in recent times, the affairs of the legislative arm have overtaken the news in recent times. Since the June 9th elections, the media has been awash with stores about 'leadership tussles in the National Assembly' – however, the vast majority of Senators and House of Representatives members dispute these claims. In the short span that the leadership of the legislative arm has been constituted, it has not fallen short of what can be defined as responsible leadership capable of complementing the activities of the executive. However, external efforts seem to be hell-bent on creating chaos where there is none.
Based on the aforementioned, events involving the activities of 'outside powers' interfering in the legislature are gradually turning Nigeria into a comic society in the eyes of the international community. The leadership of the legislative arm has been dragged into some muddy waters in court case upon court case – attempts that are clearly aimed at forcing their hands, or making them resign. It goes without saying, that the court cases and other happenings involving the National Assembly leadership are not normal, as a closer look will show that this is not a fight against corruption, neither is it a legal dispute, clearly, the court cases are aimed at being 'well-orchestrated' character assassinations.
Since Bukola Saraki took office as the Senate President, he has been torn apart by the news media that are favourably disposed to certain South-Western elements. This is quite surprising to many, given that, he was one of the forces that carried the APC across the finish line in the last general elections. This outright case of 'condemn him at all costs', is similar to the efforts employed by the Jonathan administration to silence Saraki's pro-activeness and insistence on the rule of law and the general interest of the masses, not just the privileged few.
The issues raised against Saraki, which border on a 12-year infraction, seem to suggest a political taint that does not bode well for the nation. This is because Nigerian's are already asking if Bukola Saraki is the only two-time former governor to declare for an elective position? Additionally, why is the Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal blaming their own inefficiency on Saraki after 12-years when – they were supposed to do due diligence on his assets declaration.
Additionally, President Buhari needs to be reminded that one of the executive sins that former President Jonathan was known for was his flagrant disregard and abuse of the rule of law. Buhari must be careful not to allow the miscreants in his party and the agents of the executive arm not to use the security agencies to harass citizens without due process.
In Saraki's case, given the non-adherence to Section 3(d) of the CCB & CCT tribunal act, which clearly states that if there is a breach in an asset declaration, the Bureau shall refer the matter to the Tribunal – after giving the defendant an opportunity to either confirm or deny if those facts are true or not, Nigerians have began to see that there is definitely a political undertone to Saraki's trial.
In this regard, if such selective judicial application is allowed to continue, moving forward, whenever any high-profile individual is dragged to court, the question will not be: “What did he do?”, but, “Who did he offend?”
Written by Raheem Simbiat.