Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday railed against alleged impunity of Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies under the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Mr. Saraki said Nigeria will not achieve any progress in the fight against corruption if law enforcement authorities continue to act outside the law.
“If we are truly serious about building a Nigeria that is free from corruption and its myriad consequences, then we must fight to build a nation of institutions under law,” Mr. Saraki said.
“Anti-corruption does not start or end with the ICPC, or the EFCC, the Police or the SSS. This fight is all-encompassing.”
Mr. Saraki’s statement comes on the heels of outrage that trailed the crackdown on alleged corrupt judges by the State Security Service.
Between late Friday, October 7, and early Saturday, October 8, scores of SSS operatives swooped on the Nigerian judges and arrested some of them.
The raid, which SSS carelessly described as a ‘sting operation’ in a statement, was conducted in Abuja, Enugu, Gombe, Kano and Port-Harcourt.
Seven judges were arrested in the raid while attempts to arrest more were frustrated.
The development has left the polity largely polarised, with supporters and antagonists of the SSS falling over themselves to offer opinions that support their stance.
Mr. Saraki’s comments, which came in a speech he delivered at an anti-corruption summit he organised with his House of Representatives counterpart, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, marked the first time he would weigh in on the activities of law enforcement agencies since the development.
“We must work to ensure that there is order in all that we do. Unless there is order, we will not get the right results.
“Unless the anti-corruption war is underpinned on due process, the respect of the rule of law, and a clear acceptance of the separation of powers — with our Constitution as our guiding law, we will not achieve lasting and sustainable results,” Mr. Saraki said.
Mr. Saraki himself is currently undergoing trial for alleged false and anticipatory declaration of asset at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The asset, said to have been dubiously declared when he ran for governor in Kwara State in 2003 and re-election in 2007, were located in Lagos and Abuja and prosecutors said they run into billions of naira.
Mr. Saraki queued up senior lawyers to fight the charges and critics said he had deployed several technical ambiguities in law to frustrate the case.
Between September 2015 when his charges were announced till now, the Senate President had made at least four attempts to delay his trial, including challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT which he fought to the Supreme Court.
His latest bid to force the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, out of the case came to a dead end on October 6, after Mr. Umar ruled that Mr. Saraki’s attorneys failed to provide sufficient grounds for him to step aside.
He was also arraigned alongside his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, in a separate case in which they were accused of forgery in the Senate. The forgery charges were later withdrawn against the two senators.
Mr. Saraki maintained that his political adversaries working with some elements within the executive arm of the government were behind his ordeal.
Mr. Buhari pushed back against the comments, describing them as a figment of Mr. Saraki’s imagination.
In his speech on Tuesday, the senate president proposed an eight-plan solution to anti-corruption fight, which includes making anti-graft agencies more independent and unsusceptible to the influence of an arm of government as currently constituted.
Mr. Saraki and Mr. Dogara billed the anti-corruption summit as a platform for the National Assembly to work out its modalities for a sustainable war against endemic graft.
The National Assembly and Mr. Dogara had come under intense public scrutiny lately, following claims that the 2016 budget was terribly padded by lawmakers.
Patrick Lumumba, a former Director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, delivered the keynote address on Tuesday afternoon. The two-day event ends on Wednesday.