Finally, after unprecedented delays, orchestrated postponements, and induced adjournments, Bukola Mesujamba Saraki goes to court tomorrow. His appearance at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) tomorrow renews hope to Nigerians because the suspense has been killing them. The Nigerian people can now respond to his court appearance with collective sigh.
It has been a good year, or perhaps a bad one, for hauling our corrupt politicians before the courts. However, Nigerians have come impatiently sick at legal maneuvers of Mesujamba. He has been largely successful in delaying his trial and by implication delayed his possible sentence with complex procedural for appeals. Political malfeasance of our corrupt politicians with gripping headlines dominate the news. It reads like the almanac of political corruption, scandals, and dirty politics. But few public thieves are as colorful as Mesujamba. Mesujamba's name and pictures are plastered in all the Nigerian media and all over internet.
How could a crass, incorrigible, proud, wicked, corruptly corrupt, power drunk Mesujamba with a narcissistic-personality disorder with a trial bordering on gibberish that defies political gravity dominate the national stage, make monkeys out of us, and pose an existential threat to our March 28 Democratic Revolution? Mesujamba's legal wranglings, and long stalled trial rooted in prevarication is an apocalyptic harbinger of how corruption fights back. His unnecessary monopoly of center stage in our politics has dragged on for too long. The manipulation of our criminal justice system by Mesujamba poses a lasting danger to our democracy.
Mesujamba is arguably the most corrupt politician in Nigeria. He's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, so to speak, many, many, many times over the years. Mesujamba's long association with corruption has proven that our lawmakers are lawbreakers. For many years, Mesujamba have dodged the political graveyard and managed to rebound. Though he was responsible for amassing slush funds and assorted embezzlement, yet he was never charged.
This monster has become a one-man wrecking crew of anything that represents morality or decency. Strangely, he's done it all with money. Instead of using our stolen money for public good like building homes for the homeless, establish businesses and employ the army of the jobless, he prefers to use the money to destroy our lives, our freedom, and our way of life. He's spent millions if not billions to buy judges and completely remake the judiciary by destroying our criminal justice system. For years, the whole judicial apparatus of the nation was rearranged in order to let Mesujamba off the hook of any criminal conviction.
Several times, Mesujamba refused to go to trial and insisted that his fundamental rights were violated and that the court or a legally constituted tribunal has no jurisdiction to try him. We lost count how many times the corruption and false declaration of assets lawsuit against Mesujamba was postponed. Each time before postponement, Mesujamba would go on shopping spree to buy a judge who was ready to do his bidding. His latest two shopping spots were the law offices of Kanu Agabi and the judicial reporters' station.
Last week, Mesujamba changed his legal team. He brought in former Attorney General of Nigeria Kanu Agabi to lead his defense team. SaharaReporters quoting a source, reports that “The CCT chair was once a close associate of Mr. Agabi. From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Umar worked at Mr. Agabi’s law chambers in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, before transferring to the Federal Ministry of Justice shortly after Mr. Agabi became Nigeria’s Attorney General under President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999-2003. Mr. Obasanjo did not re-appoint Mr. Agabi as Attorney General when he was re-elected in 2003.”
“One of our sources,” continues SaharaReporters, “asserted that the accelerated promotion that Mr. Umar enjoyed in his career was partly due to Mr. Agabi’s support and mentorship.”
SaharaReporters further reports that “Mr. Agabi also has solid professional and personal ties to Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, the prosecutor handling Senator Saraki’s case. Mr. Jacobs cut his legal teeth at the chambers of the late Gani Fawehinmi before Mr. Agabi brought him to Abuja where he served as a Special Assistant to Nigeria’s Attorney General. The source disclosed that it was through Mr. Agabi that Mr. Jacobs met Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Shortly after former President Obasanjo failed to re-appoint Mr. Agabi as Attorney General, Mr. Ribadu drafted Mr. Jacobs and a few other lawyers to form a core team of EFCC prosecutors. Our source disclosed that Mr. Jacobs declined to accept a permanent appointment with the EFCC, stating he preferred to work with the anti-graft agency as needed.”
“A political associate of Mr. Saraki’s said the senator and his strategists found out that Mr. Agabi was the senator’s best bet for direct access to both Mr. Umar and Mr. Jacobs in order to ensure that the Code of Conduct trial ends with a no-guilty verdict.”
Few days to his trial, Mesujamba bribed judiciary reporters and ordered them to write favorable reports on his impending trial at the CCT tomorrow. According to SaharaReporters, Saraki’s aide, Chuks Okocha met the reporters at Nuek Gardens, in Abuja where he doled N50,000 to each of them. SaharaReporters claimed its undercover investigator was at the venue and heard Okocha, a former journalist with ThisDay, warning the journalists that the senate president would not tolerate anything short of the deal. It was reportedly agreed that one of the reporters would report Saraki’s trial and, later, syndicate to his colleagues, who are merely expected to re-touch the story lightly before forwarding to their employers for publication.
“An undercover investigator for SaharaReporters was present when Mr. Saraki’s aides met with Judiciary reporters inside an Abuja garden called Nelson Nuek Gardens, and handed each of the reporters the sum of N50,000. The garden is located in the Central Business District of Abuja, quite close to the International Conference Centre.”
“Our major source,” continues SaharaReporters, “who was present at the parley, disclosed that all the judiciary reporters covering Mr. Saraki’s case attended the meeting where bribes were handed out.“Our two sources disclosed that Chuks Okocha, a special assistant to the Senate President, distributed Mr. Saraki’s cash largess to the reporters. At the meeting, the senator’s aides struck a deal with the reporters to have only one of the friendly reporters write a report of the trial which would then be syndicated among all the reporters. It was agreed that each reporter would merely retouch the syndicated report and send it to their medium.”
Mesujamba by forging Senate Standing Orders became president of the senate of Nigeria in 2015. He was the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011. He was first elected to the senate in April 2011, representing Kwara Central and re-elected in March 2015 elections.
The twists and turns of the case added controversy to an already very controversial preferential treatment our broken judicial system gives to the rich and the powerful. Nigerians have shown signs of strain and exhaustion since Mesujamba was dragged to CCT. However, no one will deny the pull the Mesujamba trial will have on the Nigerian public.
Now that the trial will commence fully tomorrow, Nigerians expect swift disposition of the case. To Mesujamba, it's been a long flight from the law. But to Nigerians, “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.”
So, let the trial begin in earnest!