Saraki, Senate, CCT: Matters Arising By Segun Bambo Ojomo.

There is no doubt that the most controversial issue in Nigeria’s political space at the moment is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s case with the Code of Conduct Tribunal on allegation of false declaration of assets.

The Code of Conduct Bureau had received complaints on irregularities about Saraki’s declaration of assets and had promptly made its reference to the Code of Conduct Tribunal charged by law to sit and review the allegations in a manner that presents action against or in favour of the respondent, as the case may be.

But the prompt action by the Code of Conduct Bureau in presenting Saraki’s case to the Tribunal, no matter how laudable it was being in line with the present government’s declaration of total war on corruption, was fraught with a major irregularity that was not in accordance with the Bureau’s Act.

The respondent, in his defence, had insisted that he was never given an opportunity to admit or deny the charges on some of his assets by the Bureau before transmission of the case to the Tribunal.

According to section 3(d) of the Bureau Act- “The function of the Bureau shall be: {…} to receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of the Act and where the bureau considers it necessary to do so, refer such complaints to the Code of Conduct Tribunal established by section 20 of the Act, in accordance with section 20 to 25 of the Act.

” Provided that where the person concerned makes a written admission of such breach or non- compliance, no reference to the Tribunal shall be necessary, and before any complaint is forwarded to the Tribunal, the Bureau must fulfill/follow the procedure as stipulated in section 3(d) of the Act, read in conjunction with the proviso below it”.

The aforementioned clearly indicated the importance of giving a respondent, in this case, Saraki, an opportunity of denying or admitting the wrongdoing under the Act.

But many a well informed Nigerians about the country’s ‘due process’ especially as it concerns leadership would have seen the axe coming for Saraki as a deterrent for the advanced politicking and game play that ensured his emergence as the President of the nation’s eighth Senate.

The battle between contestants and the power play among party leadership in determining who finally emerged President of the eighth Senate unarguably had been the keenest in recent times and the surprising shock for the titans came at the end by the final emergence of a candidate deemed undeserving for reserved reasons.

It is a well known fact that at a stage in the shopping process for the individual to assume the exalted position, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) zoned the position to the north central geo-political zone which presented George Akume and Saraki as top ranking senators.

Despite Saraki’s hardwork and aggressiveness at clinching the position, his malleability might have been rated low by the party leadership probably in retrospect of his stance against his late father during the determination of leadership in Kwara State in 2011, among other criteria, which became factors for the emergence of and preference for a North Eastern candidate.

Having found his way to the highest position at the upper legislative chamber, Saraki became highly influential in the determination of the chamber’s principal officers, an action a number of political observers perceived as unecessarily ‘deepening the stirring of the hornet’s nest’.

By and large, kudos should be to our amiable and determined President Muhammadu Buhari for insisting on not tampering with due process as he preferred during the battle for ascension to the nation’s number three position and his unflinching will to establish true and sustainable democracy in the land.

The Code of Conduct Bureau also needs to extend its fangs widely and wildly, especially as it sets a long lasting precedence with the allegation of false declaration of assets against Saraki, in readiness to investigate a great majority of the nation’s public officers because false assets’ declaration has become a norm in our public institutions.

The leadership of the All Progressives’ Congress should also willfully evaluate the ruling party’s gain or loss peradventure Saraki is discharged/acquitted or otherwise of the allegations.

Ojomo is a Media Communication Specialist.

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