Bukola Saraki has ceased to be a mere fugitive from the long shadow of his own criminal past. He is now a threat to national security. He is actively sabotaging all the three arms of the Nigerian government…from the vantage position of the senate president!
Even after the Supreme Court gave an unambiguous dead end ruling on the validity of the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, he has kept making the rounds of lower cadres of the Nigerian court system, harassing them to oblige him a contradictory verdict on the selfsame matter that the highest court in the land has pronounced upon.
His brazen contempt for and assault on the Nigerian judiciary is unprecedented. He doesn’t pretend to be an importunate suppliant in the temple of justice. He prides himself on the daredevilry of an insurgent sworn to exploding the society!
While he continues his attack on the judiciary, he started a new one on the legislature. He rallied some senators and instigated them to gut the extant laws under which he is being tried at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The draft ‘amendments’ he means to visit on the Code of Conduct Act and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 will make the laws weaker instruments in the war against corruption.
According to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, the amendments, if passed, will not have a retroactive effect. And, in the event that they are passed, President Muhammadu Buhari would definitely veto them. But Saraki would not be restrained by the apparent futility of his overreach. He simply wants to please himself with the satisfaction that he had attempted to undermine the war against corruption, one of the core agenda of President Buhari, his presumed persecutor!
In a show of desperation, the feverish kind that can only derive from lust for revenge, Saraki rushed The Code of Conduct Act CAP C15 LFN 2004 (Amendment) sponsored by one of his foremost sidekicks, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North), through the first and second reading within forty eight hours. The bill seeks to whittle down the powers of the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Saraki has also slated next Tuesday for the commencement of deliberations on The Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (Amendment) Bill 2016 (SB249) sponsored by another of his staunch supporter, Senator Isah Misau (APC, Bauchi Central). The bill seeks to delegitimize the use of the Criminal Justice Law in the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The proceedings of the senate put paid to any doubt that the ‘amendments’ were all about Saraki. When Abdullahi Yahaya (APC, Kebbi North) warned that processing the amendments in the midst of Saraki’s trial would reflect negatively on the image of the Senate, a Saraki ally, Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South, PDP), answered that the senators had to be Good Samaritans to their needy colleague. She said, ‘’If you don’t assist your neighbor when his house is burning, it will extend to yours.’’
Saraki, a bundle of insecurities himself, had capitalized on the insecurities of his colleagues to deploy them as pawns. He had told them they were potential victims. Buhari could seize some misdemeanor in their history and haunt them for it.
Saraki’s imposed collegial phobia on the senators in order to control them cheaply. His use of them as minions represents his conversion of the Senate of the Federal of Republic of Nigeria to his personal rubber stamp. It is a gesture of dictatorship!
In a healthy democracy, laws are not formulated except in the best interest of the entirety of the citizenry. And amendments to such laws are not proposed save to rid the existing acts in question of their inherent flaws, to enrich their nuance, and to conform them to the progress of societal evolution.
The ‘amendments’ Saraki is ramming through the Senate were not crafted to serve such good purpose. The ‘amendments’ are antithetical to public interest. They clearly run against the prevailing zeitgeist.
They were fashioned to be anti-people and pro-corruption. They will be a hedge around the cult of the corrupt. They will shield looters of public funds from justice. They will nurture impunity.
And these are neither the laws Nigerians need now nor the ones they expect their high maintenance legislators to conjure up. The exposition of the mind-boggling plunder that was routine under past administrations has converted an overwhelming majority of Nigerians into the supporters’ club of anti-graft agencies. Nigerians want laws that would strengthen those agencies.
That Saraki is driving these abominable bills –something a normal man’s sense of civility would ordinarily not allow him to fantasize about –underscores that he has no character. His cynical abuse of his trust as the leader of the Nigerian parliament confirms that he is as unworthy of public service as he is dangerous in public office.
But this ‘amendment’ bid is not Saraki’s first attempt to rig the law. At the beginning of this CCT trial, he had his surrogates float the idea that the immunity clause needs to be reviewed to cover the Senate President and make him untouchable. He dropped the proposal only because Nigerians rose in protest against it.
Saraki, a man whose composite sketch typifies a mosaic of multiple scandals, is the most agitated politician in Nigeria today. The weights of his past baggage are tumbling down on him. They leave him with two options. One is surrender, which would mean his acquiescence to the burial of his present by his past. The other is warfare; fighting a rearguard action to slow the denouement of his tragedy.
His future is bereft of hope. His prospect comprises a trinity of woes: a career apocalypse, the forfeiture of all his fraudulently acquired assets, and a jail term. The fear of the eventuality of the three is the reason why his quest for survival is charged with panic.
Politics is his habitat. His existence elsewhere is inconceivable. His vow never to resign affirms that fact. He fears, justifiably, that stepping down as head of the senate will be the beginning of his downhill slide to oblivion.
He has managed to go the farthest any Nigerian has ever dared in trivializing the judiciary because of the leverage of the Senate Presidency. Without the covering of the aura of Nigeria’s No. 3 man, only his ordinariness will remain. And that ordinariness will serve to amplify the merit of the case of false declaration of assets against, vitiating the veracity of his propaganda of being a victim of political witch-hunt.
Saraki insists on retaining the senate presidency because the senate presidency sustains him. The position is his life support machine. His abdication in Abuja will open his absolute dominion in Kwara state to a viable challenge. It will incentivize the people who have had to endure the Saraki dynastic yoke for decades to maximize his vulnerable moment to snatch their freedom.
His appeal as politician rests on his status as the omnipotent godfather of politics. If he loses his base, he is finished. And he has no path to another career.
He was a failed banker. He fast forwarded the bankruptcy of his father’s bank, Societe General Bank, through relentless looting.
He was a failed governor. He spent the better part of his eight year tenure in Kwara government house funneling state funds into his pocket, shipping some of them to offshore tax havens, and buying himself properties.
As a senator, he was a perennial failure at organizing gift-giving events for his constituents: He would choreograph his ‘charity’ festivals in such a way that his people died in stampedes year after year!
Like his father, Bukola trained as a medical doctor. But he can’t return to medical practice. His memory is clean of the use of a stethoscope!
The ongoing judicial process, if it is fair, will most assuredly culminate in Saraki forfeiting all his stolen assets. He did not earn much of possessions by the sweat of his brow. The confiscation will significantly impoverish him. His crazed fight derives from a determination to avert a monumental loss that would bring him close to destitution.
Saraki foresees a jail term. He knows better than everybody that his conviction is inevitable given the preponderance of evidence against him. He is more eager to stop the trial than hasten it because he fears it will sooner establish his guilt than validate his innocence. He fights this dirty because a conviction and a prison sentence would be as destructive as a death sentence.
He can’t re-enter politics as an ex-convict. He would be a toxic material. Even an Alamieyeseigha kind of pardon won’t make his rehabilitation feasible.
With such an ominous prospect before him, Saraki has too much to fight for. Yet, his dirty fight cannot win him any respite. He has so damaged himself that he cannot escape the injury he inflicted on himself. But the desperado is a threat to national security threat because he is working to bring down the country on his head.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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