By Bamikole Omishore
Potter Stewart, a renowned Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, who played a significant role in the interpretation of Civil Rights laws, coined the basic phrase: “Fairness is what Justice really is.” This phrase, conceived to propel the notion of every individual’s equitable right under the law, demonstrates that an unbiased legal system is a necessary component for justice to be dispensed.
As things stand, the case of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) against the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has proven to be full of contradictions and inequity. ‘Contradictions’ because since the case was in its preliminary stages, there has been a mismatch between the facts being propelled by the prosecution, the methods being employed by the tribunal, and the charges that have been brought against the Senate President.
Since the case was brought to light in late 2015, few weeks after Dr. Saraki’s emergence as President of the Senate, members of the Nigerian public have come to understand that the charges against Saraki and the testimony of the chief witness have not been in sync.
Additionally, Nigerians have started to also understand that certain legal precedents have not been followed by the tribunal. For example, based on the non-adherence to Section 3, paragraph D of the act that established the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Tribunal, the Senate President ought to be given an opportunity to respond to the charges brought against him.
One noteworthy instance that comes to mind is that in 2007, the CCT dismissed the charges against former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, based on the non-adherence to the precedent clause. Another occasion, in 2011, the same CCT quashed the case against Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the same ground. However, in what has been described by many legal practitioners as an abuse of judicial precedent, the same judicial body, with the same Chairman that delivered the Tinubu judgment, went back on the legal precedent that it had set on several occasions, and threw out the proviso which created a condition precedent clause before the law can be applied against Saraki case.
What was even more disturbing was the self-indictment by Dan Ladi Umar in the case, as he casually revealed that Tinubu’s ruling was simply “made in error.” This outright reversal stirs up questions regarding if Umar was under duress when he delivered his judgment; if the tribunal understands the legal implications of their actions; and if the same 1999 Constitution and Code of Conduct Bureau acts were not the documents used in the cases of Atiku and Tinubu.
Furthermore, the contributions of the prosecution’s Chief Witness, Michael Wetkas, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has poked further holes in the prosecution’s case.
Some clear examples are Wetkas admitting that neither he nor his team investigated three crucial exhibits (11, 12, and 13) tendered as evidence against the Senate President. Another example is the witness mentioning that it was the EFCC that investigated Saraki, as opposed to agents from the CCB. In essence, the case before the CCT now is money laundering, instead of false Asset Declaration which it is created to handle.
These inconsistencies lend credence to what the Senate President and his team have been saying for a while: “This case is not about prosecuting alleged corruption, but about some powerful individuals settling political scores, using their control of the judiciary.”
Finally, in another ruling by the Chairman of the CCT that demonstrates his bias in the Saraki situation, Mr. Danladi Umar mandated the trial of the Senate President to proceed on a day-to-day basis – citing the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), despite the fact that he has adjourned other cases – that are also under the purview of the ACJA.
This situation came to a head on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, when the Counsel for the former Minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, argued that because the trial had earlier been moved from April 14 to 20 for continuation, their case should be heard before Saraki’s case which was adjourned just a day before. However, Justice Umar insisted that the Senate President’s case must continue, and stood down Orubebe’s case – leaving many to question if in fact there is a timeline (as some have speculated) to convict Saraki, by hook or by crook before a certain date.
As the head of the Senate President’s New Media team, based on all these observations, it has become not only necessary, but mandatory to let the Nigerian public know that as things stand, the case against my principal, the Senate President, is concocted on shaky evidence as the outcome of the on-going cross-examination has indicated. As the prosecution is attempting to make this a media trial, I enjoin Nigerians to urge the CCT to make this a trial that is based on the substance and the spirit of the law. Doing this, would ensure that the process is free and fair, so that at the end of the day, we can all be able to claim that justice was in fact done.
Bamikole Omishore is the Special Assistant on New Media to President of the Senate
I was reminiscing on a quesI was reminiscing on a question I was asked some few months ago, and this particular article peeped out of the window of that question. After delivering a talk in a place, an elderly man walked towards me, looking me right in the eye, he asked; “Son, what’s your place in history?” At that instant I didn’t know what exactly to say to him because I had never really thought about what my place was. But I simply told him; I want to play my part well, because I don’t want to be forgotten.
Today in our world, a lot of people are doing a lot of things; people wanting to survive, people wanting to succeed, and people wanting to build their own dream. Matter of fact, there are people surviving, people succeeding, and people building their own dream. Time is progressing. Often times, our collective dream is moving forward imperfectly. At other times, looking on our busy streets, I see us moving around chaotically. The test is whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them.
We often talk about great men, we talk about men who found their place in history, we talk about men who stood out, and functioned effectively in their own capacity, and by their actions and deeds, they were able to put themselves in history, and they embossed their name on the hearts of men. We talk about the intellectual giant Sir Isaac Newton, whose record of achievement stands out like a light house in the dark. Nelson Mandela is a legend who will be remembered for years and decades to come, even by generations yet to be born. We talk about Martin Luther King Jr., we talk about Obafemi Awolowo, William Shakespeare, Ludwig Van Beethoven.
Today, everyone is talking about Barrack Obama, he is a guy who has redefined hope and has brought it to real life by becoming the first African American president of the United States. We’ve talked so much about them; I think it’s time we become like them. We need to have the spirit, the zeal, and the commitment they had to what they believed in. We need to find out and operate in our own strength and uniqueness, with a renewed sense of purpose and willpower, and we need to stick to it all the way.
A lot of people have come and gone, a whole lot more of us are still around, and that means you still have the opportunity to do something worthwhile and leave your imprints on the sands of time. You have gas streaming in and out of your nostrils; you have your mind functioning appropriately, what I’m saying is; you still have God’s gift of life. What are you going to do with it? Somebody died last night gasping for breath, but here you are, God woke you up this morning, started you out on your way. You are alive not to count the moments that make up your life, but rather to make your moments count. Every day when I wake up, and I find out that I’m still breathing; I see it as an opportunity to go farther.
I mentioned earlier that I don’t want to be forgotten. A more important question I asked afterwards was; what will I be remembered for? This is the question we all need to ask ourselves. For some folks, it might be scary. For some others, it might be the beginning of self discovery, and the pathway to personal freedom. But either this way or that way, today you have a chance to decide what your place will be in history. This question of our place in history must be answered, not for us, but BY us.
Lamide is a Personal Effectiveness Coach with interest in Leadership Development, and Human Capital Development. He is an author and a speaker who believes the right mentality can power one to success. A Personal Effectiveness columnist in OVATION International Magazine. Lamide can be reached on +234-8032454647, firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, Lamide Adenuga on Facebook and LammyMotivates on TWITTER.