Published On: Mon, Apr 11th, 2016

CCB/CCT/EFCC vs SARAKI: A CASE OF MANY PARTIES

Ignore the sentiments. Relate with the facts. In what is turning out to be spectacular trial of Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the case of alleged false declaration of assets has become a case of Saraki’s alleged illegal acquisition of wealth, with many actors, from a section of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, and its Chairman, Danladi Umar, laying out different scripts. Yet, Buhari’s facade of not being involved or interested in the case – with its obvious incongruities and lapses – may end up handing the Senate presidency to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. With its less than pretty majority in the Senate, the permutation now is that some Senators in APC, who are themselves expressing discomfort at what is going on, may switch votes. This report examines the role of each party (read actor) in this drama.

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Saraki

Abubakar Bukola Saraki is the protagonist, the man in the eye of the storm. Since 1999, never has a Senate President come under this type of gloom. And, in what had been a game of revolving chairs, a notorious tradition where previous Senate Presidents collapsed over mere allegations of whatever shade, Saraki is weathering the storm. That his support in the Senate remains very strong shows that he must be loved by majority of his colleagues across party lines. However, that he is standing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, creates a political discount and one which appears really daunting. For a man who eyeballed the establishment in his party to win the Senate presidency, Saraki can be said to have inadvertently brought upon himself this crisis, knowing that he was going to be dealing with politicians with a large appetite for buccaneering. However, at a time when the convention in saner climes suggests that a public office holder embroiled in this type of controversy better serves society by resigning, the obvious political nature what is going on cushions and moderates the angst that Saraki should have naturally suffered.

EFCC (Lamorde)
This case seems to be a purely Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, case. The star witness is an EFCC official who repeatedly mentioned the former EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, while giving his evidence. It would have been expected that this should be an EFCC case before the law court – at least based on the drama playing out with the nature of evidence being given. So far, based on evidence adduced before the CCT, there is yet any matter concerning the violation of asset declaration directly; it is still all about wealth acquisition. Interestingly, the current CCT Chairman was being investigated by the EFCC under Lamorde but is known to have been placed on administrative bail – since the story of his administrative bail came into public space, the CCT Chairman has not been known to deny it. Lamorde, himself, has a damning petition filed against him before the Senate by one George Uboh, accusing him of not accounting for about N2.5 trillion recovered from looters of the Nigerian treasury. Curiously, in Saraki, both the CCT Chairman and the EFCC may have found an alliance of some sort.

FGN (SGF, VP)
The Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, is supervised by the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal and some senators have alleged that the SGF, based on political affinity and the interests involved, may not be unconnected with some activities to achieve the objective of punishing the man who embarrassed his political party. As an avowed Christian leader, it is interesting that the VP is in a leadership position in an administration where travesty appears to be the order of the day regarding the goings-on at the CCB and the CCT. Were it to be VP Yemi Osinbajo’s days as Lagos Attorney General, a situation where a judge who is yet to vacate allegations hanging over his head and, who, interestingly, is still alleged to be on administrative bail from the anti-graft agency, is the one sitting in a matter involving the same anti-graft agency, Osinbajo would have made a profound statement with a view to bringing sanity on board. Worse still, for the issue of not standing to be counted for equity in this matter, the ridiculous spectacle of a judge admitting that an earlier judgment he granted was done in error, makes it all the more curious that a respected SAN is the VP of Nigeria, where his administration has not seen any diabolical incongruity in what the judge admitted, and he is still allowed to carry on, speaks to the grand design at play.

Danladi-Umar-cct

CCT Chairman
Danladi Umar is an interesting, very interesting personality, and he is the judge who himself is on trial. He is on administrative bail from the EFCC on charges of corruption. Incidentally, the EFCC, which is investigating a case against the tribunal Chairman, is the one providing the star witness in Saraki’s CCT case. Rotimi Jacobs, an EFCC prosecutor, is the one handling the Saraki case. Danladi Umar has several petitions filed against him at the House of Representatives and the Senate. It will be interesting to see how his case turns out in the days ahead when he appears before the National Assembly where Saraki is Chairman. What that means is that Umar would likely, therefore, be standing to answer questions regarding the petition against him before the National Assembly. But beyond that, Umar did something a bit unthinkable and probably against convention. In the intervening period while Saraki went on the rigmarole before the Appeal Court and then the Supreme Court to challenge his trial before the CCT, Umar, as a judge, granted media interview putting up some defense for himself regarding the allegations hanging over his head. Curiouser was Umar’s unashamed admission as a judge that a judgment he gave in 2011 was a wrong judgment. The question on the lips of the discerning is that were that judgment to have involved life, is that how he would have whimsically admitted that he gave a judgment in error? Stemming from that, a more honorable action to have been taken, like Judge John Sirica, whose insistence on going beyond the surface, ended up opening up the Watergate Scandal, would have divorced himself from handling the matter because, in his own words, he “gave a judgment in error”. That is not all. The drama at the CCT, since the case was brought before it, plays into the allegation that an agenda is meant to be actualised.
APC
Recall that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the party in control of both Presidency and the National Assembly. It is a party whose principal member is being tried by other principal members standing as presecutors. It is a house divided against itself. This presents a clear case of how divided the party has become. In the APC today, dogs are eating dogs. Some say it is because of 2019. Others say it is a case of sheer rivalry. Some say it is a matter of clash of egos. Whatever it is, the Saraki case has serious implications for the future of APC and the Buhari Presidency.

Specifically, the admission by Umar, that he gave a judgment in favour of Ashiwaju Tinubu in error, has opened a new front of conjectures. One is that because the North needed the support of Tinubu to build a coalition against the floundering Goodluck Jonathan, Umar let him go. Umar, now admitting error, and in the face of the raw deal the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, wing of the ruling APC is being handed by the latter, may be signaling another way of attempting to go back and have something on the indefatigable APC leader.

Code of Conduct Bureau

The history of the CCB in the hands of Sam Saba, its Chairman, has been one that has not inspired too much confidence. Saba, himself, had been petitioned before by some staff of the CCB. After a series of horse-trading, involving a law firm hired by the group of staff who petitioned Saba, the petition was let go. In an interview with the principal partner of the Kano-based law firm, the particulars of the case were laid bare before Sunday Vanguard and it bordered on alleged impropriety. The implication of this case, which is now being led by the EFCC, is that the Bureau has become a subsidiary of the anti-graft agency. It has an investigative team that has not been allowed to carry out its duties. It is the EFCC that investigated the Saraki case, took it to the tribunal and provided the star witness. Yet, some time ago, there were also a number of high profile politicians whom the CCB invited, following due process, and ended up resolving their issues. So, the question is, why didn’t Saba’s CCB invite Saraki as demanded by the law?

Senate

The defendant in this case is the presiding officer of the Senate. It is believed that the case came up at all solely because the defendant emerged as presiding officer of that arm of the legislature, instead of a preferred candidates. It is also believed that those who are at the fore-front of the institution of the case are also the ones fanning its embers. But, incidentally, an overwhelming majority of the senators have continued in their resolute support of the Senate President, following him in their numbers every time he appears at the tribunal for trial.

Judiciary

Since the case began, it has gone through the whole gamut of the judicial process. It has gone to the Federal High Court where a judge withdrew out of curious allegation from some online media. Another Federal High Court judge also suspended judgment on the day he was to read his verdict, stating that he could not continue. Up till today, the judgment remains suspended. At the Court of Appeal, a judgment was once arrested few minutes before its delivery. Eventually when it was delivered, several weeks later, it was a split decision. The Supreme Court also gave a judgment that some criticized. Many believe that the judgment of the Supreme Court has created a lot of precedents that will have serious implications for the nation’s legal processes in the future. That the Supreme Court endorsed the short-circuiting of a process is in itself a grave danger to jurisprudence and democracy.

Media
A section of the media is now dictating to judges how to dispense justice. In a most interesting case, a prominent online newspaper reportedly intimidated a judge into withdrawing from a case brought before it by the Senate President on the day he was scheduled to deliver judgment. On the eve of the resumption of Saraki’s cases after every adjournment, a particularly notorious medium comes up with stories targeted at truncating the judicial process or manipulating it towards the desired outcome of its alleged paymasters. How political some sections of the media have become has become more apparent in the course of this trial. The media sensationalism that has accompanied the trial has also thrown up a situation where even the prosecutor speaks in the tribunal room with an eye for what will be an headline catcher. That is to be expected because of the huge free exposure it provides. And it also does so much good to keep the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari on the front burner.

Rotimi Jacobs

Rotimi Jacobs plays the role of the antagonist as prosecutor in the Saraki case. The fate of Saraki at the CCT will rest on what facts he is able to present and what case he is able to prove. Interestingly, it is believed that he has done more as a willing performer before an audience of media spectators than dealing with the crux of his case at the CCT. Every time he speaks in court, he appears to speak with the media in mind leaving many to wonder if this is one trial anchored on real judicial substance or another over-celebrated media trial.

SOURCE: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/04/ccbcctefcc-vs-sarakia-case-many-parties/

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