*Concerning Your Trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal*
Dear Senator Bukola Saraki,
Your eventual appearance at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on the 22nd of September was remarkable in the intense public interest over the alleged false declaration of assets against you. It was a welcome relief that good judgment prevailed over the spirited efforts by presumably learned senior lawyers to truncate your obedience to the tenets of Rule of law – that all are under and equal before the law. Your appearance did not in any way diminish your exalted position as the president of the Senate; rather, it brought you to conformity with the character of a chief law-giver of a country; it also shamed those who claim to be high priests and servers at the temple of justice but always lead in the obfuscation and pervasion of justice for personal gains. We appreciate your eventual submission to the Tribunal!
Please, note that the silent majority of Nigerians have just voted for a CHANGE in past attitude to public office-holding that encouraged and eulogized impunity in self-aggrandizement. The people are now desperate to recover some $1 trillion known to have been stolen from public treasury by past public office-holders – mainly top public servants, state executives, ministers and legislators at all tiers – and each of them is among the numerous suspects. So, at the time your name appeared on the Tribunal’s cause list, you were expected to honourably and promptly answer to the summons, and there exonerate yourself and shame your “enemies.”
Your recourse instead to the unwholesome antics of legal arm-twisting and obfuscation by discredited legal witch-doctors was like adding salt to the injury of the wretched of the earth and voiceless majority who direly need to recover their stolen assets for use in addressing their pressing challenges (like paying the backlog of salaries, fixing the power sector, and creating millions of jobs); you thus swayed public opinion to the probability of guilt: why such spirited efforts to avoid mere summons from a regular Tribunal under a democratic dispensation? It didn’t matter whether your listing was motivated by politics, malice, crave for your official position, or even a witch-hunt: “by whatever motive, let the exercise give a clue to where any part of the massive loot can be found and returned through the due process of law; let the hunter’s trap now catch any of the elements that had contributed to our economic woes,” are the people’s current refrains!
So, brother Saraki, our quest for social justice precludes our entanglement with partisan, ethnic, and religious sentiments in this matter. It means nothing to us if a suspect’s “opponents” are after his exalted political office (such as Senate President), as our minimum demand is that the present and future occupiers of our public offices must not be party to the massive diminution of our treasuries. We also demand that every public officer – including at the EFCC, ICPC, CCB, CCT, various cadres in the MDAs – is having a date to prove his innocence, as the kindled anti-graft fire will rage beyond the control of anyone (including President Buhari); even the know-it-all senior advocates (SANs), court judges, Vice-Chancellors, nouveau-rich lecturers, pastors, bishops, Imams, traditional rulers, union leaders, and “activists” will be unveiled from the comfort of their lawyers’ courts and brought before the peoples’ moral court of justice. Tribunal’s summons is certainly not witch-hunting for anyone with clean hands.
As a professing religious adherent, you should not find it difficult telling us the truth of the allegation against you, and you should have no recourse or reliance on the “liar-ability” of any vaunted legal witch-doctor to upturn the facts and wrest judgment in this anti-graft war; shame shall be the promotion of fools and false accusers in this epochal moral contest. The Scriptures teach that “whoever covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins shall obtain mercy.”
This is the import of the misunderstood “amnesty” component of a civil society’s “Corruption Amnesty, Restitution and Rehabilitation Project” (CARRP) proposed for addressing our endemic corruption canker: those who voluntarily confess and return ill-gotten wealth will receive only a confirmatory inquiry into their declarations – against the backdrop of growing calls for meting out stiffer penalties for the graft scourge. This restitution window has the superiority of soul-cleansing over the labyrinth of legal acrobatics in the law(yers’) courts; and anyone who might have been misled by the trappings of office-holding can honestly and courageously approach this window to enjoy a re-union with God and the pauperized populace; the populace include those who are emboldened by prolonged extreme deprivation and alienation as to disrupt the solemn occasion of at a recent prayer session and threw stones at their perceived oppressor. The Scriptures further say: “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lost his life at the end?”, and “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.”
The burden of discharging the onerous responsibilities of a Senate President with the above sobering reflections on the Tribunal’s trial could be so excruciating to a normal human being (including one with a claim to clear conscience), except that the Scriptures also say that some people have lost consciousness of sin in their prolonged attachment to evil. It is for this conscience sake that people who find themselves in such difficult positions honourably resign their exalted official positions to commit their full attention to answering the charges and clearing their names. This was amply demonstrated in the case of the former IMF Managing Director, Dominic Straus, who promptly resigned from his position to defend himself on a mere accusation of frolicking with a hotel intern (though he was eventually acquitted of the charge); it didn’t matter if his “political opponents” masterminded that charge to undo him politically or to take over his IMF job.
It is hoped that Distinguished Senator Saraki will deeply introspect, consider his culpability or otherwise in the very rampant sin of using one’s position to accumulate wealth in an unlawful manner at the expense of Kwara state/Nigerian peoples, and try to conceal it through false assets declaration. A federal high court in Port Harcourt last Monday (21st September) both convicted and released an accused that changed his plea and confessed to a crime after unsuccessfully trying to defend a “not guilty” plea for over two years in detention; his joy from the soul-cleansing act and regained freedom knew no bounds as he left the dock.
Senator Saraki can rebuild his honour, and use his wealth of information as a senator, two-term governor and former chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum to reveal the dossiers and antics of other governors and legislators who are no less involved in this crime, even if they are among those presumably in solidarity with him at the Tribunal trial. The people cannot at this time go back from anyone suspected to be holding part of the over $1 trillion stolen from them; their resolve goes beyond allegations of witch-hunt and political vendetta. Let stolen assets be returned or recovered from any of us who are culpable, and the law(yers’) courts should no longer be hiding places, please!
Most obliged with your expected honourable conduct at this defining moment.
Victor TC Anyanwu
Snr. Economist/Executive Director
Citizens for Justice, Employment and Transparency (C-JET)
Mobile: +234 – 8036676651
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