After Friday’s unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court which acquitted him of all 16 charges brought against him, the senate president Bukola Saraki released a strong statement once again insisting that the trial was politically motivated. But he went beyond that, concluding that the APC-led federal government has wasted its three years in power.
Why this matters
For now, Saraki is still a member of the ruling party. But his characterisation of the government’s first three years as wasted is another sign that he may be on his way out. Already some of his allies like his chief of staff, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed and Kogi senator Dino Melaye, have announced their defection from the ruling party. Also, the senate president appears to be the toast of the opposition PDP. Former vice president Atiku Abubakar, one of the leading presidential candidates in the PDP, was one of the first to congratulate Saraki on his Supreme Court victory, and today he was a guest of the Rivers governor, Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt, where he commissioned some projects.
Below are five quotes from Saraki’s statement:
1. The case was politically motivated towards a pre-determined end.
“I am happy that I have been vindicated. The Supreme Court has affirmed that there is no evidence of false declaration of assets. The court also observed that certain agents took over the responsibility of the Code of Conduct Bureau in this trial, and one can infer that this was done towards a pre-determined end.
“As I said in my first appearance at the CCT, this is a politically motivated case. The case was trumped up in the first instance because of my emergence as the President of the Senate against the wishes of certain forces. Ordinarily, I doubt anyone would be interested in the asset declaration form I filled over 15 years ago,” Saraki said.
2. Saraki says there has not been cooperation between the executive and legislature:
“Instead of working together in the interest of the nation and to seek to do better for our people, we are fighting one another and using legal instruments to mount baseless accusations against one another. Instead of exhibiting the need for unity and working day and night for that purpose, we are stoking the fire of division and rancour. I maintain that, above all else, my CCT trial has been a flagrant vilification of my person, and shows that some people are after their personal interests rather than the national interest.”
3. Wasted three years of the APC government:
“It has been three wasted years across board in this country. Three years that would have been devoted to tackling issues affecting Nigerians, including: economic recovery, insecurity, youth unemployment and strengthening national institutions – were wasted on malicious prosecution. People were ready to trade off three years that would have been devoted to fostering cooperation, unity and economic progress for their selfish ends. It is my hope that those who are behind my persecution will see the handwriting on the wall and leave me to do the work for which I was elected, so I can continue to give my all to this great country of ours,” Saraki said.
4. A bias anti-corruption drive by the Buhari government:
“As many have rightly observed, it is plain to see that the anti-corruption fight is being prosecuted with vindictiveness, to target perceived political opponents. I believe in the need to fight corruption, but I will never be party to the selective application of the law or the rhetoric of an insincere anti-corruption fight.”
5. Saraki said he has contributed towards fighting corruption in the country:
“I have made my own humble contributions to the fight against corruption in this country. As a presidential aide, I initiated the process that led to the enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. I was the first governor to establish the Price Intelligence Unit which later metamorphosed into the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) at the federal level. In the history of this country, the highest fraud, the most brazen corruption has been the Fuel Subsidy scam. No one wanted to talk about it or confront entrenched powers. As a Senator on the platform of the ruling party at that time, I sponsored a motion on the floor of the Senate calling for investigation that led to the unprecedented exposure of the massive corruption in the fuel subsidy regime. That was my only point of departure with the former President. My antecedents speak for themselves.”
6. He justified the actions of his colleagues who frequently stopped senate proceedings to accompany him to court during his trial:
“I am most grateful for the support of my Distinguished Colleagues and the Honourable Members of the 8th National Assembly for their unflinching support and regular attendance at the various proceedings. They were unfairly criticised for accompanying me on court appearances, but it is now clear that they did so because they believed that injustice to one, is injustice to all. They have been the true embodiment of esprit de corps. I thank them for banding together in the face of an unconscionable attack on the institution of the legislature.”