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Buhari, Saraki And History

First Bank Nigeria

By Folarin Ademosu 

Sitting in the accused box, Senate President Bukola Saraki must have pinched himself many times to be sure he actually was the one. The reality that he was in the dock, and not his highly ornamented table in the senate chamber, must equally have knocked him out of any illusion that the incident was a dream. Although, the senate president had put up a confident pose, smiling intermittently, during his appearance at the tribunal, he evidently shorn of his charm and grandoise power show. His forced smiles,moving his facial flesh rhythmically, merely betrayed his anguish. Having been compelled to answer charges before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for false assets declaration, Saraki was apparently ruffled.

But, the event would appear a replay of history under Muhammadu Buhari’s headship of the country. With hindsight, Buhari, as Nigeria’s military head of state, similarly ensured Bukola Saraki’s father, Dr. Olusola Saraki’s trial for corruption in 1984.

The senior Saraki, a senate leader and influential member of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, included politicians tried by the Buhari/Tunde Idiagbon’s administration for corrupt enrichment, among other. He was detained under Military’s State Security Decree No. 2 of 1984 and, later, appeared before the Recovery Of Public Property Decree No.3 of 1984, headed by Justice Samson Uwaifo.

The senior Saraki was alleged to have received bribes of N21,880 from Fougerolle (Nig.) Ltd, N3,245,000, and $11.3 million US dollars from one Chief Sasanya for the NPN. His was tried together with Alhaji Shettima Monguno, also accused of taking N2.5 million from Chief Shasanya as kick-back for the same NPN.

Saraki and Monguno were released from detention in 1985, with the tribunal exonerating Monguno of the allegations against him. But, for Saraki, the panel said there was prima facie upon which he could be tried for corruption. To the superstitious, the trial of a second generation Saraki is a spell the family has fallen into.

Days before showing up at the tribunal, claims were that many Imams in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, went into a frenzy to invoke ‘celestial powers’ against Saraki’s trial. If this were true, the Islamic clerics must have misplaced their priorities. Breaking the genealogical spell seems all the senate president require.

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