Deconstructing Saraki’s Supreme Court Judicial Triumph
By Amir Abdulazeez
After enduring days of agonizingly having stories of killings dominate our public space, we now have some respite that we can finally discuss something other than violence.
Many who were still mourning the plateau massacres never actually had the right emotions and state of mind notice when Argentina narrowly knocked Nigeria out of the 2018 World Cup currently played in Russia.
While we are yet to fully digest the issues and intrigues around the splinter rAPC, the Supreme Court delivered a judgement clearing the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki of all wrong doing, declaring that he has no case to answer.
The victorious judgement was so significant that even President Muhammadu Buhari was reported to have not only commended Saraki for having the courage and perseverance to prove his innocence but also making reference to his own past judicial travails to demonstrate the courts as the right avenues for seeking redress.
To many, Saraki’s Supreme Court triumph was not as surprising as Buhari’s congratulatory dispositions, especially as the presidency is seen as his main traducers.
May be, we now have an rPMB which in a few days may even congratulate Sambo Dasuki on the six or nine bails he has being granted by courts without been released. Who knows?
The question we should be asking is whether this apex court judgment is the end game for both the Senate President and the polity. Saraki’s acquittal by the Supreme Court may have taught, retaught or reminded us three things which we basically know anyway.
The first issue is on what it takes to prosecute high profile corruption cases in Nigeria as well as the hypothetical equity of everyone before the law.
It is easy to commit a crime (corruption) in Nigeria, but it is sometimes even easier to get away with it. With our judicial inadequacies, you can be set free in spite of obvious guilt, provided you have the wealth to hire a retinue of experienced lawyers like Saraki’s.
The Senate President’s legal team had the war chest from all fronts to prolong the case to forever while the government is hell bent on timely p(e)r(o)secution; a stalemate the courts could probably not endure for too long and possibly took the safer course of acquittal.
Can an ordinary Nigerian afford all these no matter how innocent?
How many Nigerians have been condemned by the courts because they lack a proper defense system?
Simply put, justice is only expensive for the poor, but not for the rich.
I think from the onset, this case had only three possible outcomes and timely convicting Saraki while still being Senate President was contrary to public opinion, actually never one of them.
The hypothetical choices were; discharging him which they did, tactically abandon the case which obvious pressures prevented or prolonging for due consideration at a time when the case was no longer significant in a similar manner Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye’s cases led to their convictions after 14 years.
The CCB/CCT route to prosecuting Saraki was an unfamiliar one, but it was perhaps the easiest considering the fact that his strong grip on Kwara State Government may not provide the necessary avenue to beam the searchlight on his 8 year tenure as governor.
The second issue is the destructive threat of politics to our collective well-being. Politics is a deadly negative weapon in this country.
You can deploy it to scuttle almost anything. The most tactical way to kill the substance of any serious issue in this country is to politicize it.
You can commit virtually any crime and attract public and even judicial sympathy if you can successfully deploy politics especially if the prosecution itself appears to be politically motivated and executed. With the political maestro that he is, I don’t think you can win a contest with Saraki by politicizing it.
Some people were more interested as to what took the CCB/CCT over ten years to discover that Saraki had false asset declaration than knowing whether he indeed falsely declared his assets or not.
Others were interested on why other people close to the president are not prosecuted more than whether the former governor had a case to answer or not.
Head or tail, Saraki’s conviction or acquittal will still be subjected to politics and the case may never get the serious attention that it deserves; for this reason, Saraki’s trial was apparently dead on arrival.
Bola Tinubu was cleared by the courts in a similar trial, but many who may or may not be pro-Saraki believe he was ( or is) corrupt. That’s politics.
The third issue is the most important which is the role of the public in all this. In any society, Nigeria included, two courts are the most important aside the law of the land; the Court of Conscience and the Court of Public Perception.
Saraki may have cleared himself from the judicial court, but in the other two, it’s very difficult, perhaps never. Ask any ten Nigerians at random, regardless of their confidence on the judiciary or not, whether Saraki is corrupt and seven will likely answer on the affirmative.
Atiku Abubakar’s consistent defense against corruption allegations all these years have been that no court has found him guilty.
It is true that the former Vice President’s renown lawyers had ensured he won almost every court case including ones against a hostile Obasanjo who was hell bent on nailing him, but go to the street today and many Nigerians will still tell you they see him as symbol of corruption.
In politics, it is better to avoid a bad reputation than to avoid a bad conscience if you cannot do both. This is more so that our nowadays politicians fear electoral loss more than they fear God.
Our politicians are very lucky that Nigerians are people who many a time value sentiment over substance, otherwise many of them have enough scandals to keep them away from public circles for the rest of their lives.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, it is easier to cope with a bad conscience than a bad reputation; Saraki may have to cope with both, at least for the mean time.