Saraki’s 13 Charges As The Code Of Many Troubles
THERE is no second-guessing the fact that the All Progressives Congress, (APC) is in a hurry to unleash the negative effects of its lack of preparedness for governance and predilection for trouble on Nigerians. Many a Nigerian may have started wondering whether they voted rightly last March. The National Assembly, which is the citadel of democracy, has become the chosen square for the ruling party to dance its macabre dance of confusion.
The latest attempt to uproot Senator Abubakar Olubukola Saraki from the pinnacle of legislative leadership might, if care is not taken, release a balloon effect on the nation’s polity. Formulating a total of 13 charges 13 years after the alleged crime of lying on assets declaration, was said to have been committed by Saraki, has a lot of imputations.
In the first place, Nigerians would like to know who discovered these infractions against the nation’s code of conduct for public officers. Next citizens would also need to be convinced that the allegations and attendant prosecution are not products of mischief. And this can only be if it is proven that the officer or officers responsible for tracking that discrepancy has/have resigned or been fired.
Then it should be seen with eyes on the constitution, whether any other officer other than the Attorney General of the Federation could file charges in court on behalf of the Code of Conduct Bureau. In an interview with The Guardian recently, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Mr. Femi Falana, said the search for special courts to try suspects of corruption is a waste of time, as the CCB is already in place to do all that. It is left to be seen whether the learned senior advocate’s opinion roused the CCB into frenzied trial of Senate President Saraki.
Then on the political score, the authorities would have a lot of explaining to do for Nigerians to believe that the 13 charges of false declaration of assets are aimed at getting at Saraki for his decision to exert his political right to vote and or be voted for the post of President of Senate despite the whims of some of his party’s chieftains.
If indeed it is true that President Buhari is not comfortable with Saraki’s occupation of the Senate Presidency’s and some overzealous officers want to get the former Kwara State Governor out of the seat at all cost, the Gestapo method could boomerang. But could the young man from a privileged home that served eight years as governor and four years as Senator, muster the strength and gravitas to fight back?
Many people think that the investigation (oversight) of the operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Malam Ibrahim Lamorde, is the Senate President’s fight against the onslaught arrayed against him through his wife. And as if the attempt to investigate Mrs. Toyin Saraki over allegations of money laundering and diversion of Kwara State government funds may not gather enough dust (mud), the sudden twist of dusting up the 13 charges against the husband seems more undeviating. That Toyin is not a public officer may introduce new complexities in the whole drama, especially for the lawyers.
Has the authorities the locus to question the source of money found in her account? If there is allegation of diversion, can it be proved beyond reasonable doubt that whatever could be found around her is proceed of the diversion? Who did the diversion? Ultimately, this may end up as a contest between her words and those of her accusers. Or would the husband be called upon to explain how his wife acquired whatever? May be that is the leading the authorities are pursuing by dusting up the 13 charges!
The Senate President has shown that he could not be easily cowed or intimidated. Dismissing the 13 charges against him in a press statement, Saraki described the “allegations as false, incorrect and untrue.” He argues that though he has not been served with the court processes, his decision to respond to the development was informed by need for public information. Putting holes on the entire charges and proceedings against him, the Senate President disclosed that he has consistently declared his assets as required by law at every point before resuming any political office, saying that that of 2015 is not an exception. He expressed surprise that the alleged charges being raised refer to his asset declaration in 2003 while in office as Governor of Kwara State
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, which filed the 13 charges before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, accused Senator Bukola Saraki of false and improper assets declaration for the period he was governor of Kwara State. The AGF’s office seems to have done a great job not minding that it took 12 solid years after the man left office to discover that the properties, which Saraki claimed to have acquired include those he declared in anticipation and not declared at all. It is here that the political narratives come in.
Saraki, like five other state governors that joined the APC, were of the PDP original breed. And APC succeeded in selling PDP to Nigerians as the breeding grounds of corruption and corrupt politicians. Nigerians will no doubt be entertained by the unfolding battle. A scenario very similar to ‘if you Dabo me, I Tarka you’ may be in the offing!
APC stalwarts, especially those from the nPDP may decide to identify with Saraki and join forces to throw up other saints in the party that have mud in their behind. The party may unwittingly be applying the same tricks and methodologies it planned to use against former President Jonathan to its members.
Already there are small talks within the APC circles that the Senate Minority Leader and former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has run overseas to escape the planned onslaught against the former PDP big player over the election of Saraki as President of Senate. Those who bandy such words say that if eventually Akpabio returns, he would remain silent like Deputy President of Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who is being associated with the alterations in the Senate Rule book. It was also said that having gotten the hint about the planned invasion of a section of the Akwa Ibom Government Lodge, which he still uses, the former governor simulated the road traffic accident as a decoy to escape overseas. Whether this allegation is part of the legendary APC propaganda machinery is out of the question.
The Senate President has shown that he could not be easily cowed or intimidated. Dismissing the 13 charges against him in a press statement, Saraki described the “allegations as false, incorrect and untrue.” He argues that though he has not been served with the court processes, his decision to respond to the development was informed by need for public information.
Putting holes on the entire charges and proceedings against him, the Senate President disclosed that he has consistently declared his assets as required by law at every point before resuming any political office, saying that that of 2015 is not an exception. He expressed surprise that the alleged charges being raised refer to his asset declaration in 2003 while in office as Governor of Kwara State.
Without alluding to the possibility that the same Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) may have to wait for another 12 years before rounding off verification of President Buhari’s asset declaration, the statement said: “We believe that the Code of Conduct Bureau following their processes in which after a declaration is submitted to the bureau they carried out verification of the assets and ascertained the claims made, should not wait till 12 years later to be pointing out an alleged inconsistencies in a document submitted to it in 2003.”
Wondering why the CCB did not focus on Saraki’s recent declaration or those of 2007 and 2011, the statement said; “it is unexplainable that the case in question is now based on the 2003 declaration.”
That some people have started asking whether President Buhari declared his liabilities, including the money he borrowed from a commercial bank other than the one he said he has always maintained an account, reveals that there could be some icing on the corruption fight. Could it be that the power probe initiated by the Senate has roused former military officers to offensive against the civilian politicians? There are indications that many battalions may be mobilized in this whole drama. When that happens, it would dawn on Nigerians that the 13 charges against Saraki are but a code of many troubles.