by Alexander O. Onukwue
And after 23 months of court appearances, it turns out Senator Bukola Saraki had no case to answer after all. The Code of Conduct Tribunal in its ruling dismissed the 18-count charge of false declaration of assets which had been brought against the Senate President by the Federal Government.
The trial witnessed various twists and turns. There were some revelations, but most were largely declared to be without substance. At the end of it all, Dr Saraki has worked.
What have Nigerians made of this? We group the reactions into five:
A victory for Democracy
Saraki’s acquittal by the Code of Conduct Tribunal was a victory for the PDP, at least those members of the party in the Senate who benefitted from his going against the APC ‘agreement’ at the beginning of the 8th Senate. Led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the Federal Government’s failure would encourage some of those under the umbrella who still see Dr Saraki as one of their own and will be more emboldened to court him for favours.
This reaction also comes from those who feel the Presidency was overtaken by blind anger in pursuing Saraki, after apparently subverting the APC’s prior agreement on the positions to be occupied in the Senate. The glee here is that the tribunal’s judgment has granted a tacit validation to the principle of the separation of powers by the three arms of any democratic Government
A vindication of the Senate President
With particularity to “of the Senate President”, this cheer is led by those who have been of the view that the trial had been a distraction on the drive of the former Kwara Governor to achieve tangible results in his time leading the Senate. On the second anniversary of the 8th Senate, they reminded Nigerians of the promises made by Saraki which had been kept and wanted everyone to know he wouldn’t be deterred in his efforts to make the business of the Senate translate to positive changes in the lives of Nigerians.
An indictment on anti-corruption
Civil society groups, especially those in the business of promoting anti-corruption, did not have a good day on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Many decried the fact that the better interest of the nation in having corrupt-free Governance had been traded for political gains and mending of intra-party fractures.
Brings the rigour of the Judicial process into question
As with many other corruption cases where protracted prosecution led to know conviction on the basis of insufficient grounds to make a case, some legal luminaries and ordinary citizens are given their unqualified opinions on what exactly it is the Judiciary can ever do right when it comes to anti-corruption.
What did you expect before?
Ekiti Governor, Ayo Fayose, described that it was always going to be an exercise in futility. Somehow, most persons in the four groups above also thought so too.