12 February 2008

Nigeria: Burden of Proof And Senator Nuhu Aliyu's Frustration


Abuja — Recently, Senator Nuhu Aliyu made a heroic statement on the floor of the upper legislative chamber only for him to reverse the statement when he was asked to hit the nail on the head. BEN ADOGA perused the statement against the background that the Senator may be acting under frustration.

In the past weeks, the nation has been stired by the allegation of the existence of 419ners in the National Assembly. What caught the attention of Nigerians most was the promise to name the 419 members of the National Assembly. Nigerians became curious and anxiously waited for the names of the 419 members in the National Assembly.

Serious as the issue was, it generated the kind of interest and attention Nigerians gave it because it came from a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not just that still, but a man who rose through the ranks in the police force and was a different times in charge of CID and the Criminals Investigation Bureau, CIB. It would appear he knew what he was saying and what he was doing. Having served in the police at sensitive positions and now in the upper legislative chamber for about nine years now, Senator Nuhu Aliyu could not be said to be ignorant of the law or the consequences of his actions.

At the time when Nigerians waited for the all important Appropriation Bill to be passed, the upper legislative chamber succeeded in distracting the nation. Even as it is a well known fact that Nigerians, especially villagers at the grassroots where this pliticians come from, knew exactly those who have made money dubiously, rigged elections and even those who stole goats, yams or did not pass their school certificate examinations, but have fraudulently acquired degrees and are in the National Assembly today, they still waited for Nuhu Aliyu to name those he knew, especially as an ex-police man who should know better.

Unfortunately, at the middle of the matter, an anticlimax was what Nigerians got as Senator Nuhu Aliyu made a U-turn on the advise of his lawyers, at least he said so.

The Niger State PDP Senator is by all standards an elder statesman, well repected among his colleagues in the legislative and his community that has trusted him with mandate three times. He equally had a fruitful career in the police. The questions Nigerians are asking is, if Senator Nuhu Aliyu was not aware of his encumbarances before his outburst. Some simply say his excuse of being dragged to court is not tenable as he enjoys legislative imunity. Statements made on the flour of Senate, House of Representatives are not actionable.

Senator Nuhu Aliyu while appologising instead of naming the 419 legislators said he was advised by his lawyers to the contrary, and that if he did, he would have been in court. He explained that he knew that no matter the thoroughness of the investigation by the police, if such a culprit was not properly convicted by a court of competent jurisdication, the person could not rightly be termed a criminal or a 419ner.

The question Senator Anthony Agbo asked would have nailed the matter on the head. Since the elder-stateman senator was advised by his lawyers not to dare mention names. Does that mean that there were no 419ners in the National Assembly again, or that either the system or something else has constrained him from mentioning names.

Listening to Senator Lee Maeba, any discerning mind should understand the meta-language and the sub text of the matter. "He (Senator Nuhu Aliyu) has a big predicament, last week, in plenary, he would have mentioned names. I prevailed on him not to, till he saw his lawyers,"Lee Maeba stated. If he was that passonate and was ready to mention names, was it really the advise of his lawyers that changed his mind? Thouth Nuhu Aliyu made it clear that he received no threat from any where.

What is Nuhu Aliyu's predicament? A close look at the three time Senator suggests that he is rather frustrated. A man driven by the zeal to improve the society in his life time, and one who thinks given his wealth of experience he could contribute to the anti corruption struggle by hitting corruption, on the head is by expossing people in high places "known" to be or to have been criminals. But the law says till he is convicted by a court of law, he could not be termed criminal or 419ners. Here lies Nuhu Aliyu's frustration. To some, the Senator was simply playing god by arrogating to himself the powers of the court to declare some people quilty before the courts say so, or even when such persons may have been discharged and acquited by courts of competent jurisdiction.

For Senator Nuhu Aliyu, the persons he investigated were guilty by the facts available to him, but he is not the law court, that also is a frustration. It is like the proverbial story of a villagers taken to court for stealing a goat. At the law court, his lawyers argued that his client took a rope and at the end of the rope was a goat, so the "thief" was discharged and acquited. In the eyes of the law the man is not a thief, but to the villagers who caught him with the goat belonging to Mr. X, that man remains a theif.

Facts before the law may be different from the truth, but for the purpose of sanity in society. The law must remain law so that anarchy do not creep in, and Nuhu Aliyu is no law court, and no matter how he investigated and proved that Mr. XYZ, how senator or Rep member were guilty of offences charged, even if the senator or Hon XYZ bribed his way through and was not convicted, he remains not convicted and claims the title Hon or distinguished. If you think Senator XYZ stole your vote or your mandate, the law says he is still distinguished till the tribunals or the law courts extriguishes" him.

Some analysts, however, say that senator Aliyu's U-turn is cowardise, especially of him standing. They say it is his stock in trade, that he is used to through up issues and abandoning Nigerians when they are all ears. Making reference to the former deputy sentate president, Ibrahim Manatu's probe by the same committee investigating him now, he told Nigerians that he had proof, only for him not to prove his case when the chips were down. A columnists arger is that Nuhu Aliyu would have been courageous enough not to dissappoint Nigerians this time as he didn't have to go far looking for anwers. The newspaper columnists said Senator Aliyu would have taken the easy escape route and mentioned the well known and recent cases in the National Assebly. Recently, a honourable member was removed for not having his school certificate which he claimed to have, such cases still abound. Better still, the columnist asked why Senator Aliyu did not mention Ette-gate, Iyabogate alias Damilolala Akinlawan", Arimugate and several other colleques who have been sacked by the tribunal for stealing votes and mandate. He wold have just saved his head with these culprits rather than dissapoint Nigerians again, the columnist stated.

One thing still remains, even as celebrated as some of these cases are, there are there are yet to be conclusive for one to be sure that a court of competent jurisdiction has convicted such and such a person. Here also lies Nuhu Aliyu's frustrated to the grave, may be he should just write a book and rush to the court to secure an injunction against the burning of the book. Then the offenders will go to the courts for character assassination, the case will last till both the offenders and the offended to go their graves.

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