The Fear Of Downfall: A Romance With The Rule Law And Positive Actions, By AbdulRahman Agboola
Strict adherence to the dictates of law is a core impediment to equity and justice, which is a fundamental factor that necessitated rules of law to guarantee the sanctity of human rights and freedoms. Oftentimes, the beneficiaries of the protections of laws celebrate the benevolence of judicial system while those that run fouls and got axed by law usually challenge the dictates of law.
The failure of man to comply with the divine maxim that says do unto others as you love to be done to is actually the genesis of seeking redress and justice against violation of human rights and freedoms especially the oppressions of the weak by the mighty. While those heading the temple of justice are equally prone to erroneous judgments due to inducement or affinity, the sacred guide permits an exoneration of the guilty due to poor investigation but never to put an innocent man to death under any guise.
The burden of proof lay with the plaintiff and the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offence was actually committed by the respondent before pronounced guilty and whether orchestrated or ill motivated, law must serve its due cause to maintain the sanity of a community. The ultimate challenge confronting the advancement of Nigeria is sharp practices at variance with the dictates of the Constitution that should ordinarily guide us right but it is demeaning to note sense of oddities against best practices among Nigerians.
The wave of the moment is the drama ensuing from the trial of the Senate President of Nigeria, Dr Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal over allegations bothering on irregularities in his asset declarations over time. The trial of a serving Senate President by any competent court of jurisdiction ordinarily pose as a test for both the effectiveness and efficiencies of laws and orders but the dramatic turn of events speaks volume of the immaturities of the political class.
It is proper to put this issue into proper perspectives from a recent experience I had with Asset Declaration Form issued to me by the Code of Conduct Bureau. As a public servant, I recently received an asset declaration form from the bureau; I filled the form to the best of my knowledge with basic understanding of the meaning of assets and liabilities. The form requested that I should declare landed properties, vehicles, money at hand and in banks etc. I owned none of the requested items at that moment and was instructed not to make any anticipatory declaration, so I returned the form with claim of money in my salary account alone but surprisingly the Officer from the bureau rejected my submission that I must claim ownership of Household furniture and equipment which is very petty to me. I argued with him logically and asked if those household equipment are stolen after claims what happens, he simply argued that since I was working then I should possess assets then instructed me to come for the submission myself at their headquarters and as an average low income earner, I gladly locked the form inside my drawer since then.
The motives of the asset declarations by public officers is to make them accountable for their wealth, checkmate fraudulent acquisition of wealth and abuse of the privileges of their offices, but ascendancy into top public offices has proved to be an avenue for treasury looting and fraudulent practices which culminated into the present horrible state of our economy and poor orientations among Nigerians.
The Leaders of APC are alleged as the brain behind the ordeals of the Senate President over his refusal to align with their dictates over the National Assembly Leadership debacle, even Mr President is not exempted from the blame trading by the supporters of the Senate President. In this process as well, the code of conduct tribunal has been maligned on allegations of arm twisting and political influence as the shout of persecution of the Senate President become aloud from his henchmen.
If equal rights tally with common sense then it behoves on us to accept the rights of actions of every parties involved in the prosecution of the Senate President. I have read several illogical statements on the timing and the intentions of the prosecutors and I wonder when our orientation will shift to the proof of innocence or guilty of any accused in this Country. If the Senate President who has serves as a Governor for Eight years with requisite knowledge of the working of the law cannot willingly subject himself to judicial scrutiny as he presides over the National Assembly then we really need to examine the future of democracy and rule of law in Nigeria.
At this era when the Country yearns for the efficiency of law and order, I hope the Senate President will proof his innocence and preside over the National Assembly as someone who has felt the impact of the rule of law as his present ordeal will be his guide in office against abuse of power. The National Assembly deals with law making and members must be law abiding to be duly qualified to make productive laws for the Country, suffice to say that the trial of the Senate President is a means to good governance in Nigeria.
I want to agree that the trial of the Senate President is politically motivated but those that motivated it has the backing of the laws to act in that order, I equally want to agree that both the Presidency and the APC Leaders want the Senate President prosecuted for opposing them, I regard it as a justification of the maxim that says those who must go to equity must go with clean hands, I further want to agree that the Senate President has a right to stall his prosecution, I regard that as the beauty of democracy.
The reality is that most of our leaders are crooks and involved in false declarations of wealth and run fouls of the code of conducts of their offices and if a new Nigeria must become a reality, we should allow them to expose and bring themselves down. The fear of downfall by our leaders will definitely facilitate their romance with the rule of law and positive actions which will be gainful to the masses.
Our responsibility as masses is to be committed to good governance and any attempt to rubbish due process in any adjudication should be our ultimate concern. We have seen the spread sheet as published against the Senate President and those that compiled the dossier must have been on his track for a long time but I simply want to believe they are fabrications but if the revelations from the trial eventually tally with the claims then the case should not be treated in isolation by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the tribunal should expose others with such brazen dossiers in their cover and Mr President must throw his weight behind the tribunal if an informed result emerges from the trial of the Senate President.
If the Senate President could be subjected to the rule of law as his ongoing trial implies, the immunity clause has to be reviewed to serve as caution to the Executive Arm of Government and the full independence of Judiciary in Nigeria must be sacrosanct. For this Country to progress expectedly there should be no sacred cow in the fight against corruption.
Comrade AbdulRahman Agboola
Mass Action for Good Governance and Grassroots Development in Nigeria