And the anti-corruption war died

Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ELUKPO

It is a pity that the body of the anti- graft war was interred the other day. The anti-corruption war expired on June 14, 2017 when one of the celebrated cases of the war fizzled out. The Code of Conduct Tribunal discharged and acquitted Dr. Bukola Saraki on all counts preferred against him while at the same time it seriously lampooned the prosecution for ignorance in little matters of the law. It was a no-case verdict. And Saraki left the courtroom into a tumultuous embrace of his accomplices who reclined in the chamber that is meant to be hallowed which has unfortunately been made hollow. The chamber has become hollow by the number of fugitives from law perching on the seats reserved for distinguished people. It has been hollowed by demagoguery and unelevated discussions and the pursuit of personal interests over and above that of the country. The 8th Assembly sat on a forged foundation. And what a hollow foundation!

Though, the war has been gasping for breath for quite some time but apprehensive citizens were hopeful that the onslaught against sleaze would manage to survive the vicissitude of inclement environment and toxic managers.

The anti-corruption war has died. And it died while the President is sick, even though the nature of his sickness is shrouded in mystery and secrecy. The war died at the point of initiation in the hands of the initiator. It died when the President projects nothing other than his famed body language and disdain for primitive accumulation which have failed to douse the stench of official corruption. But corruption is a monster that must be fought with brilliance, technicalities and ruthlessness.

Behold, the war died when President Buhari began to exhibit ambivalence, provincialism, dualism and even nepotism in his appointments and approach to critical political and governance issues. The war died when the President harbours criminals, dubious dealmakers and sophisticated grass cutters in his council of the elect.

The dirge of the anti-sleaze war was sang mournfully when the cardinal anti-corruption agency elevated theatrics and sensationalism over rigorous prosecution and hard -nosed investigations. To be fair, the EFCC, has managed to haul back into the nation’s vaults, large cache of stolen wealth. This even is shrouded in secrecy.  In nation building or in the efforts to reclaim a crumbling state, not everything must be approached with political correctness. Logging the reclaimed assets with the names of the thieves who stole them in a public register would have shown that the administration is serious about the war and that it has nothing to hide.

Creating special courts for the prosecution of corruption related cases would have gone a long way in facilitating the duel against sleaze. If corruption will fight back because it is the lifeblood of Nigerians, the prosecutors, investigators and all those working with the agency should  have been equipped with cutting edge forensic skills that will be at par with international best practices.

Going to court with fanfare yet, without adequate preparation and thorough investigation only for the nose of Magu to be bloodied by the bandits is an elixir for the enemies of the nation. But when Magu’s nose is bloodied, it is the nation that is being raped. We shouldn’t gloat because we are being viciously stabbed by the custodians of our treasures.

The court in this administration has taken an adversarial position. Nothing will change this in the foreseeable future. Is Walter Onnoghen taking his own pound of flesh, telling Buhari to go to hell with his hollow puritanism that made him delay his appointment until the nation rose against his high-handedness? Yesterday, malfeasant priests of the temple of justice were recalled even with the blemishes on their wigs and gowns. Today, a famous and highly placed criminal was let loose to continue to pontificate on national issues. What else will happen tomorrow on the watch of Justice Onnoghen or should we say in Onnoghen’s courts?

Perhaps, President Buhari lacks social skills, which, for politicians, include building bridges and alliances. Critical cooperation and synergy could have been formed and cemented over a dinner in the Villa at the instance of the President. The anti-corruption war has died, at least in this administration.

Depositors who lost their money in financial inferno that gutted Societe Generale Bank know that another inferno has just gutted our temple of justice. The dossier of the several assets fraudulently acquired and irregularly declared is quite open to all. A governor like a dynamite who reportedly promised to testify about some property belonging to the accused and yet undeclared suddenly kept mute while the court is in need of evidence to nail him. Maybe, it is a form of elite solidarity. While the court of money doublers, gluttonous attorneys and dollar-softened judges may acquit a criminal stands convicted in the public court.

The people must not loose hope when there is not the faintest reason to be hopeful. Despondency battles with optimism in the minds of true patriots. Yet, hope must we re-ignite in our fatherland. This time around, the people are helpless and they have no helpers. In this is a lesson for them to help themselves. Help yourselves, ye heedless people!  Exile the looters before Nigeria is stolen out of existence while the court proclaims no guilty verdicts.

Nigerians, the ball is in your court.



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