If there is an award for a politician with the most corruption cases around him, very few people will be in contention above Bukola Saraki, President of the Nigerian Senate. Since he schemed his way to become the number three citizen of the country in a legislative coup that demonstrated how some Nigerian politicians put personal ambition above party and national interests, his past sins have continued to trail him.
Corruption and felony charges have dogged him and turned his tenure as senate president into the most uneventful in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. For almost three years of his tenure, he attended more court hearings than legislative plenary, dragging the senate unfortunately down with him into the gorge of infamy.
While he has used his questionable wealth to save himself from going to jail up till now, tales of graft have continued to trail him. Last Thursday, one of his aides, Gbenga Makanjuola was docked at the Federal High Court in Lagos over charges of N3.5 billion fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred an 11-count fraud charge against Makanjuola, a Deputy Chief of Staff to Saraki, Melrose General Services Ltd., Obiorah Amobi, (Operations Manager at Melrose), and Kolawole Shittu, (a cashier).
They were accused of conspiring to disguise the unlawful origin of the sum of N3.5 billion paid into the account of Melrose.In the charge, EFCC alleged that the accused persons committed the offences in December 2016.According to the prosecution, the accused took control of the sum which was transferred from the Nigeria Governors Forum’s account, into an Access Bank account operated by Melrose.
The prosecution said that the accused ought to have known that the sum represented proceeds of unlawful activities. The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15, 15 (2), 15(3), 18, and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act 2011.The accused were first arraigned on October 3, 2018, and had pleaded not guilty to charges, while the court had granted them bails in the sum of N250 million each, with sureties in like sums.
Saraki had expectedly ensured a formidable legal team for the accused led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)Paul Erokoro.
Anyone can easily guess where the trail of the said N3-5 billion fraud would lead. That is why it is not just those mentioned in the charge sheets that are on trial. The ubiquitous schemer of Kwara certainly knows he’s the one on trial and would use all available legal maneuvers his lawyers can sell to him to escape justice again.
Therefore, the rule of law favours criminals and frustrates the crusaders. The law looks for evidence of crime and puts the burden of proof on the accuser. Thus, even when the accused knows he committed the crime, and in anticipation of the law smartly erases those proof, the court has no capacity to deliver justice.
Unlike in religious jurisprudence where verbal testimonies of some eye witnesses to crime are good enough to proof guilt of crime, our law is based on evidence. This is why politically exposed persons like Saraki are in love with our laws. That is why he and his colleagues have frustrated effort of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to have new legislations that would make prosecution of corruption cases faster and less cumbersome.
Those who admire personalities honed in self-preservation rather than collective progress have touted Saraki as an accomplished politician adversaries underrate at their own peril. Some even envied his “coup’ against his own party when he traded the deputy senate president seat in a deal with the opposition PDP to become senate president.
But there is a limit to the elasticity of even the most redoubtable political schemer. Sooner or later, he would reach breaking point, which is where Saraki has now found himself. He has boxed himself against a stone wall and the only option left for him is to fight back or wait until he’s crushed.
This is why Saraki jumped at the offer to become the Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign a few days after coming third in the PDP presidential primary. He admitted this much in an audio recording that went viral recently when he addressed some of his loyalists in Ilorin. He revealed the 2019 election was a battle he was prepared to fight, even if he was alone.
Saraki sounded in the audio like a political godfather that had been humbled, and now had to resort to stirring empathy for himself because, in his own words, he is a victim of persecution.
But Saraki can no longer fool his supporters or the people of kwara who have become wiser after reading all the charges of graft against the “Leader”. This must have become obvious to him and his hangers-on in view of his travails in his home state of recent.
Everywhere he goes now in Kwara State, he is trailed by shouts of “ole” “ole”(thief thief) to the chagrin of his supporters. It is worse for him in Kwara South Senatorial District of the state where police have linked him with the unfortune robbery incident in Offa which led to the death of 33 persons, including police officers and pregnant women.
The robbers, who had been arrested and interrogated, allegedly confessed that they were political thugs of Saraki, and that he supplied them weapons. They further revealed that Saraki used them to rig elections in Kwara State. The case against Saraki is still in court.
Now with a fast retreating political base, and with his election-rigging machine now in police custody, Saraki is has suddenly become a pathetic underdog, a David fighting Goliath but lacking the righteousness of David. He has become a drowning man that will clutch at anything that feels like straw. Unfortunately for Saraki, he suffers the same fate with the products he has been asked to sell to Nigerians. His candidate is as bad a product as the chief marketer. That is why he has to employ lies and half-truths as marketing strategies.
But Nigerians have seen too much of him in the last three years to be bamboozled by his lies. They know that when the problems of this country in the last four years are listed in order of magnitude, Bukola Saraki’s name would not be outside the top five.
– Nwagwugwu wrote in from Enugu
Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler.