By Kudu Kudison
Events that unfold in Nigeria never cease to amaze one. It was the Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, who said that ‘Out of Africa always something new’. To modify his submission to fit into the Nigerian context will be ‘Out of Nigeria always something disgusting’. The abrupt acquittal of Senate President Bukola Saraki has added another dimension to how disgusting events unfold in Nigeria. The dimensions of analyses as far as this event is concerned abound, ranging from Saraki’s antecedents, issues that affect the high and mighty in Nigeria, to Buhari’s anti-graft war and Nigeria’s judicial system.
Bukola Saraki is not a newcomer when it comes to allegations of corruption. Having allegedly looted over N1 billion which led to the collapse of the erstwhile Societe Generale Bank, Saraki’s abrupt acquittal comes as a huge surprise. Furthermore, the embattled Senate President has been accused of looting an amount to the tune of N3.5 billion from the Paris Club Refund and alleged forgery of the Senate rules that brought him to the position of Senate President. With these myriad cases of corruption, Saraki’s acquittal is shocking and appalling. It is surprising that someone whose antecedents stink of corruption is abruptly exonerated of charges levelled against him with respect to false assets declaration.
Saraki’s abrupt acquittal gives credence to the fact that, in Nigeria, the high and mighty can not be convicted. The high and mighty are immune to conviction when it comes to corrupt practices. It is pathetic that not a single public office holder has been convicted of corrupt practices. What Nigeria does is to prosecute these people in order to give it a semblance of anti-graft war. This, unfortunately, is the motivation to corrupt practices in Nigeria. By celebrating James Ibori on his return, Nigerians validated corruption. By pouring encomiums on the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Nigeria identified corruption as a way of life. If you want to be exonerated of corrupt practices in Nigeria, capture political power.
Buhari’s emergence as the President of the Federal of Nigeria was considered a milestone in the fight against corruption. This stance emanated from Buhari’s posture as a personality who does not condone corruption. However, even at the outset, it was clear to reasonable minds that Buhari’s touted commitment to combat corruption lacked substance and still does, owing to the fact that his allies are the likes of Amaechi, Saraki, Tinubu, Ngige, among others. The war against corruption lost steam even before Saraki’s trial. Buhari had the opportunity to make a statement that it was no longer business as usual in the Sule Lamido case, but he failed to so. Similarly, the David Babachir Lawal case also showed that Buhari actually condones corruption. Godsday Orubebe’s acquittal also signals how the war against corruption has derailed. The EFCC keeps losing high profile corruption cases. These do not augur well for Buhari’s anti-graft war. It will not be out of place to posit that Buhari’s anti-graft war is anchored on much talk less action.
These events are a damning indictment of our judicial system. Nigeria’s judiciary is not the hope of the common man but the fortress of the high and mighty. Our judicial system lacks substance to follow a case to a satisfactory conclusion, especially cases that bother on corrupt practices. One is bewildered as to whether Saraki is innocent of the charges levelled against him. If he is innocent, which is hard to believe, it means the AGF is unfit for office. Repeatedly, the judiciary dashes the hopes of Nigerians with the verdicts it passes on cases of corruption. It is a pity that Saraki’s case which was followed with keen interest ends in such a hopeless manner for the war against corruption.
Nigeria is not ready to annihilate corruption. Unfortunately, Buhari has shown that he can not annihilate corruption as initially promised. There is no commitment on the part of the present administration to combat corruption. What we have is gargantuan rhetoric. Similarly, Nigeria’s judicial system limits the fight against corruption. If anything, corruption cases keep receiving verdicts that favour politicians. This is not fortuitous. There must be willingness on our part to combat corruption before we can record any success. Similarly, there is need to restructure our judicial system and the EFCC to ensure that corruption cases are followed to a logical and satisfactory conclusion. If we continue with the vicious circle of acquitting personalities charged with corrupt practices, corruption will flourish and overwhelm us.