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Opinion (8/7/19): Goje: This ‘Animal’ Is More Equal Than Others, By Olawale Olaleye

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George Orwell’s famous quote in the novel, Animal Farm, is an all-time favourite especially, because of its political connotation.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”, stated a proclamation by the pigs that controlled the government in the novel. That was the start of the revolution that eventually undid the farm as a social unit.

You must have heard or read that the Federal High Court in Jos had thrown out the corruption charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje.

The court reportedly based its decision on the orders of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Ministry of Justice through what is called nolle prosequi.

Nolle prosequiis the power entrusted to the Attorneys-General of the Federation of Nigeria and of the states respectively, to discontinue the prosecution of any criminal act before any court of law except a court martial, at any time before judgment is delivered.

The anti-graft agency had filed 21-count charge against the former governor, but 19 of the charges were later struck out leaving only two-count in Goje’s “submission of no-case”.

Thus, when the case came up last Friday for hearing, counsel to the AGF, Pius Akutah, told the court that he had an application to withdraw the charges against the former governor.

Justice Babatunde Quadiri, in his ruling, granted the application by the AGF to withdraw the charges and also discharged the accused persons, Goje, pursuant to Section 174(1) of the constitution particularly, sub-section (b) and coupled with Section 108 (2) of 2015.

But how are we to forget that the resolve to discontinue the case started, when Goje joined the race for senate presidency. It had also become obvious that he was the only one that could undo the chances of Ahmed Lawan, the preferred candidate and so, a deal was allegedly struck after a meeting with the corruption Czar, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Immediately Goje stepped down from the race, his case came up a few days later for an ‘emergency hearing’, where the EFCC counsel, Wahab Shittu, told the court that the agency had resolved to withdraw from the case and hand it over to the office of the AGF for continuation.

Yes, the constitution, through nolle prosequi,empowers the AGF to discontinue the prosecution of any criminal case before any court of law except a court martial, at any time before judgment is delivered, albeit “for public interest, and in the interest of justice.”

But, here is the lacuna. First, nobody is presently occupying the office of the AGF and the power is not transferrable. So, can a vacant office or seat act? The court had made this clear in the case of Attorney General of Kaduna vs Hassan.

It held that where there is no acting or substantive AG, then, this very power of the office could not be exercised by any other person in his stead. Again, how is discontinuing Goje’s trial going to serve public interest or constitute the interest of justice?

Having ascended office on the strength and promise to stamp out corruption from the body polity, the Goje case has once again proven that President Muhammadu Buhari has never been sincere in the fight against graft, because he was actively part of this plan to cheat the state for political expediency.

When Senator Shehu Sani, accused the ruling party of using insecticide against suspected corrupt people in the opposition but deodorant for those from the president’s camp, he actually knew what he was saying.

However, no one could have said it better than an associate professor at Kennesaw State University, Georgia, US, Farooq Kperogi, who described President Buhari’s fight against corruption thus:

“Is there any anti-corruption crusade? As I said many times, Buhari’s so-called anti-corruption fight is the most invidiously selective, the least transparent, the most brazenly unjust, and the silliest joke in Nigeria’s entire history. Here is a man, who doesn’t give his corrupt political opponents the benefit of the doubt.”

Yet, the same government is busy chasing after former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki about town, pulling former First Lady to court every other day, while naming and shaming former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, yet, protects its own from the arm of the law.

What more can I say? To your tent, oh Israel!

 

 

– Olaleye is a top journalist

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