USAfrica: Why Nigeria’s Senate President Saraki should face falsification declaration of assets now

Bukola Saraki

Why Nigeria’s Senate President Saraki should face falsification declaration of assets now.

By Elsie-Bernadette Onubogu, an International Consultant, former Senior Policy Adviser with the United Nations and contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com

Special to USAfricaonline.com,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow USAfrica at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247 and Twitter.com/Chido247

What I know for sure is that Theodore Roosevelt (the 26th President of the United States of America) was right when he opined, “Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.”

In fact, I would stretch Roosevelt’s opinion to add, ‘wherever found, whenever found, against the wrong’

Consequently, the attempt to obscure and minimize the alleged falsification of assets declaration form by Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki as a witch-hunt due, in part, to the claim that: twelve years (12) had lapsed, and his subsequent ascendancy to senate leadership, epitomizes dangerous neutrality designed to subvert justice.

It is simply a case to investigate a potential wrong, a felony. The investigation is necessary to restore accountability in adherence to democratic principles.  

So much has been written about the merits or lack thereof of the Code of Conduct Tribunal’s {CCT} case against Saraki.  Last week, Saraki’s umpteenth attempt to undermine justice was yet again denied by the Appeal Court on grounds that his appeal to stop the CCT’s case lacked merit.  

Elsie Onubogu
Elsie Onubogu

Despite chastisements and abuses, this writer remains resolute on the view that honor has no limitation and nobody is above the law.  

In addition, corruption especially by public officers as established by the ‘Abacha’ case {Liechtenstein v Nigeria {https://star.worldbank.org/star/content/no-statute-limitations-corruption}, as well as the United Nations Convention against

Corruption (https://www.unodc.org/documents/brussels/UN_Convention_Against_Corruption.pdf) (which Nigerian ratified), is not bound by statute of limitation

 

Accordingly, Bukola Saraki must tell Nigerians whether he knowingly falsified his asset declaration form 12 years ago.  And if so, he should be held accountable for it and vice versa.   Successful and progressive societies do so in order to maintain order, accountability, fairness, and reaffirm fundamental rights and equality before the Law.   

Based on these normative and operational norms, standards and principles, here is what I know for sure:

  • Honor has no limitation
  • Nobody is above the law
  • He/She who goes to Equity must come with clean hands
  • Saraki’s first attempt to disrupt justice by initial refusal to appear before a legally constituted tribunal was out of line
  • Saraki’s subsequent attempt to stop the course of justice through an appeal (which has now been rejected for lack of merit), is antithetical to democratic principles
  • As part of leadership in Nigeria’s governance (albeit, at State level before now), Saraki, must adhere and support legally constituted authority, course of justice and defend himself accordingly as nobody is above the law
  • Bukola Saraki, as the Senate President and the number three (3) most powerful leader of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, must lead not by the example of his power, but by the power of his example
  • Saraki’s statement that the only reason he is being tried for falsification was because he is the Senate President.  And that if he were an ordinary Senator, nobody will care about forms he completed twelve (12) years ago is a careless and unintelligent statement. It is a clear indication that he does not appreciate the seriousness of the alleged criminal offence – a felony.

 

Consequently, Saraki’s attitude signifies his romping with the politics of the case rather than the merits of a serious allegation – a felony. In the same light, I think that the 8th Assembly’s (under Saraki’s leadership) urgent effort to establish immunity for the Senate President and the Speaker following the arraignment of Saraki is suspect. Also, I consider the two-time ‘vote of confidence’ by members of the 8th Assembly on Saraki’s leadership as ‘political charade’, that raises additional dark clouds on the senate leadership

The ignoble spectacle of duty-bound senators temporarily relinquishing their sworn duty to accompany Saraki to the last CCT trial, constitutes a show of shame and total lack of understanding of the duty under oath to serve Nigeria

Without prejudice to Saraki’s presumed innocence, it is safe to say, it is highly unlikely for a salaried Governor of any State in Nigeria to acquire the number of assets alleged in the case unless of course such a person had these assets prior to assumption of office.  In which case, proper declaration was necessary on assumption and departure from office

Any attempt (as speculated) to absolve Saraki and drop the allegations by the ruling party (APC) for Saraki’s role in ministerial confirmations), will be a dislocation of justice, a mockery of the rule of law and the promise of ‘Change’ made by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party. Time is running out!  

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