A US diplomat was said to have told members of the Nigerian delegation during the UN General Assembly that the US respects separation of powers as an inherent part of its presidential system of government but warned that politicising the campaign against corruption would not help Nigeria
The diplomat, who does not want to get involved in the political mess and pleaded anonymity allegedly talked about the need to always follow due process and comply with stipulated procedure because the failure to this would be corruption on its own.
According to a member of the Nigerian delegation, they were embarrassed that the diplomatic community had as much insight into the happening back home and prayed that reason prevailed at the end of the day in collective interest.
A member of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had recently corroborated some of the fears of the diplomat, when he revealed that the entire trial was needless and in contradiction with the process stipulated in the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. The CCB member, who also spoke to newsmen on the condition of anonymity reportedly said if the Bureau had followed the provision of Section 3(d) of its own law, it would not have rushed to trial but first invite Saraki to come and defend whatever inconsistency or infraction observed in his asset declarations.
According to the member, the normal procedure according to the Section 3(d) of the Act is that the Bureau should set up a committee to determine whether an infraction has been committed by any public officer after submitting his/her asset declaration forms. Section 3(d) of the CCB Act states: “The functions of the Bureau shall be ….to receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of this Act and where the Bureau considers it necessary to do so, refer such complaints to the Code of Conduct Tribunal established by Section 20 of this Act in accordance with Section 20 to 25 of this Act.
Provided that where the person concerned makes a written admission of such breach or non-compliance, no reference to the Tribunal shall be necessary.”
According to him, the Section of the Act was not complied with before the Senate President was charged before the tribunal. “If it had been complied with, the man will probably not even need to get to court at all, even if he committed all we are charging him with, once he admits the inconsistency and regularises them.”
It will be recalled that it was the same refusal to follow procedure stipulated in its own law that led to the collapse of the case filed by the Bureau against a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu in 2011. He hinted that some of his colleagues at CCB, who observed this lapse, were dissatisfied with the unilateral action of the CCB chairman, Mr. Sam Saba, who did not consult them before referring the matter to the tribunal.
Meanwhile, Yoruba Youth group has stated that the on-going trial of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Bureau, can mar the anti-corruption fight of President Muhammadu Buhari. The group, Yoruba Youth Alliance, who spoke through its National President, Mr. Jackson Ojo, said the trial was more of a witch-hunt than anti-corruption crusade.
In the same light, Dr Tunji Braithwaite has slammed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government over its purported fight against corruption in the country. The politician who held sway in the second republic, stated categorically that the Nigerian president is yet to kick-start his fight against corruption in the country stressing that the trial is only a waste of time