The Politics of Saraki’s trial …. (2) by Uche Igwe

The Politics of Saraki’s trial …. (2)
By
Uche Igwe 
Since I published the first part of this article last week, I have received many responses from readers and friends. I thank everyone who took out time to call and send me a text. I decided to do this second part in order to take the conversation a little further.  I was surprised that the most obvious part of my article was ignored by many of the respondents. From the title I specified ab-initio that what I wanted to concentrate on and interrogate was the politics and not the technicalities of the trial. I am not a lawyer and I am aware that there are so many lawyers who will be able to take on the technical side of things. I listened to the exchanges in court and was particularly fascinated with the debate about whether a breach of the Code of Conduct Act could be said to be a criminal offence. There was a ruling on that. I deliberately left some of the details out of my piece because they fall outside my area of competence
Come, let us look deeper at the politics- the contours and undercurrents. There is a broad consensus that the Nigerian Senate President is being punished for disobeying his political party. So his current ordeal would have been avoided if he had quietly obeyed his party. Now you see my point- the whole Code of Conduct brouhaha is a ruse! But this is Nigeria - a bandwagon country. As soon as few vocal persons gravitate in a particular direction, othersfollow. If you dare question their direction, it is either they call you names or say you are compromised. That is interesting side of the thankless job of a public commentator- whenever to hold a point of view- it must be because someone has allegedly paid you. I don suffer! So you mean a public commentator is so poor that he cannot hold his own views or pay somebody elseLet me state that I will resist any attempt to stop me from holding alternative view. We are democrats. Aren’t we? I am not one to be drawn into the chorus of flawed orthodoxy. I will always spare sometime to interrogate it. I am aware that these days of job hunting, the names of people who dare to have a different view are boldly written in the ‘black’ book! Who cares? 
I wonder why some people feel that the questions I have raised translate to support for or against one person or another. There is nothing extraordinary in the issues I have raised. For instance if you were at the venue of the trial, you would have observed a choreographed insistence that the defendant must step into the accused box. You would have also noticed a sort of climax that was reached as soon as his photographs were taken in the dock by the many journalists present. That some analysts refused to comment about them does not mean that you did not observe them.
Many of my associates have asked me to ignore the fact that a well-known lawyer of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) is leading the prosecution team for CCB. I have been asked to look at the involvement of a former EFCC staff now deputy director at the Ministry of Justice, M. S Hassan, as a mere coincidence. Really. One of my respondents asked me to perish the curiosity about timing. According to him, the government can decide to prosecute anybody anytime. Now I know that the offence was committed in 2003, I have assumed that all those who made declarations around that time are under investigation. I say this because I have compiled the list of all of them including some of them who served in the government of former President Obasanjo. Some of them are now this and that in the current government and I expect that they will also be prosecuted soon. Except the Code of Conduct Bureau will have to convince us that they have verified all their assets- and I have the list of their names and some of their assets are in the public domain- and they fit to the amount of wealth they earned legitimately during the period under review. 
Let me reiterate that I support the current effort to fight corruption in Nigeria. However the President must understand that its complexity. One important way to begin is to ensure that there is no scared cow. I argue that it will be challenging for him to implement. Not after trying several times to win a Presidential election without success until he sought for the help of some people who we all know- these same people! We are interesting people and we suffer from selective amnesia- nationwide. We saw the former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu in that same accused box that the Senate President stepped into the other day. Why have we (Nigeriansnot asked what happed to his own matter with the tribunal? Was he discharged and acquitted or was the matter thrown out for lack for lack of ‘diligent’ prosecution? 
Finally I suggest we spare a moment and examine the motives of those who want Senator Saraki dethroned and prosecuted.  If they are patriots whose motive is to make the Senate more effective in a way that will lead to a stronger democracy and a better Nigeria then they have all my support. However if they politicians with history of selfishness and shady past- who stole government properties blind and who simply want the seat of the Senate President for their wife or crony then they will NEVER have my support. I suggest that we try to distinguish party supremacy from individual supremacy. As a party man, I should know when I offend the party and when I offend an individual. I heard many callers struggle to explain to me that the Senate President that Senator Saraki actually offended a powerful individual within his party. Alright. Now there is a danger when one person arrogates to himself such level of power and when a political party is subsumed under the apron strings of one person. This our APC na waaDoes it mean that no one will prosecute you of corruption or any wrongdoing until you go against your party? I need help here. Does it mean that you can steal and falsify your assets as much as you can hide but as far as you do not offend the party, you can go and enjoy your loot? If this whole brouhaha is just about desperate political motives of a few, veiled in a so called fight against corruption then you must count me out. Either way there will be consequences. Those who want Senator Saraki prosecuted must first provide Nigerians answers to these questions.
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