Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki sits in the accused box during a hearing of corruption charges against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja on Sept. 22, 2015. The Court of Appeal rejected Saraki’s bid to halt his trial Oct. 30. AFP/Getty Images
Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki sits in the accused box during a hearing of corruption charges against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja on Sept. 22, 2015. The Court of Appeal rejected Saraki’s bid to halt his trial Oct. 30.
Nigeria’s court of appeal rejected a bid Friday from the senate president seeking to squash his corruption trial for alleged false declaration of assets. The three-member panel in the capital of Abuja dismissed the appeal from Bukola Saraki that challenged the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to hear the proceedings, which are slated to begin in November, according to Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper.
“The CCT is a court of criminal jurisdiction, albeit limited jurisdiction,” the judges, led by Moore Adumein, ruled Friday. “There is no inherent difference between a court and a tribunal. The only difference is that tribunals in most cases handle special cases.”
Saraki’s attorney, Mahmud Mogaji, told the court they will challenge the judgment at Nigeria’s Supreme Court. Saraki, 52, is facing a 13-count charge of alleged false declaration of assets while he was governor of Kwara state in north-central Nigeria. The head of the upper chamber of parliament, who denied the accusations against him, was arraigned last month before the tribunal, according to South Africa’s News24.
The 13 charges mostly relate to Saraki’s ownership of land. Other charges refer to his transfer of $3.4 million to a bank account outside Nigeria when he was governor of north-central Kwara state and sending 1.5 million pounds to a European account to pay for a mortgage on a London property. Saraki’s press team has fiercely dismissed the allegations as “false, incorrect and untrue.” They also said the senator did not hold any foreign bank accounts while he was governor, Reuters reported.
Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki on May 29, 2015. Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
Saraki, whose official Twitter account describes him as “committed to transparency and accountability,” holds the third most powerful position in the West African country. A former member of the once-ruling People’s Democratic Party, Saraki was elected unopposed as senate president in June with bicameral support from the opposition. Saraki and several other People’s Democratic Party members defected to the All Progressives Congress last November as support for the then-opposition party was growing.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his People’s Democratic Party lost reelection to opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress by a couple million votes in the March presidential election. It was the first time an incumbent lost the presidential poll in Nigeria, Africa’s richest and most populous nation.
The People’s Democratic Party has lost popularity in recent years in part because of allegations of corruption and graft. Saraki’s corruption case is seen as a litmus test for the All Progressives Congress, which has vowed to crack down on corruption since Buhari took office in May.
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Amechi Okolo Comment:
Bravo to President Buhari. This was why we elected him — to clean the Nigerian mess. Based on your 1983 record when he shook up Nigerians by throwing corrupt Nigerians politicians and leaders into jail. He did a great clean-up job then, which was why Nigerians rose en mass to elect him in March 2015 presidential election, because most Nigerians still remember and appreciate the great work he did then with his Vice-President Idiagbon.
Then, I was a Senior Lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, and I remember how we usually lauded and were thrilled by his action. Actually, Nigeria has gotten worse since then. We are now so corrupt that I honestly do not know any country that can be more corrupt than Nigeria. We are terribly corrupt from the federal government down to the local precinct levels, such that corruption is our standard operating procedures (SOPs) — our normal way of doing business.
Everything you do in Nigeria, you have to bribe, otherwise you cannot proceed. You drive Nigerian roads, you must have wads of cash to dole out to police officers , customs officers, immigration officers, various kinds of traffic officers as one drives through the usually dangerous, broken, dilapidated Nigerian roads.
There are no jobs in Nigeria for Nigerian youths. We probably have upwards 70% to 80% youth unemployment, which is dangerous for any country — not just for the youths themselves and their families, but for everyone in the country due to the rash of armed robberies, kidnappings, murder, etc, in the country.
Unfortunately, Nigeria has been historically plagued by corrupt, incompetent, greedy, selfish leadership, which is why we have done worse than any other African country, even by African standard in spite of our enormous unrivalled human and natural resources.
Although Nigeria gained political independence on October 1, 1960, we have remained the classic neocolonial, dependent supine satellite states of the west, with only two brief periods of authentic Nigerian leaderships between July 1975 and February 1976, (Murtala Mohammed era); and between December 31, 1983 to August 1985, (Buhari, Idiagbon era). These were the unique narrow periods when Nigeria tried to move forward but were then rudely interrupted by the western bosses who implanted their stooges and agents as our leaders.