Almost everyone but the men accused had forgotten the salacious and sordid story of the N55 million naira bribe for budget scandal that rocked the National Assembly in 2005.
Given the several scandals that have permeated the polity since then: the N50 million per legislator third term bribe money, the purchasing contract scams in the immediate past House of Representatives, the running pension scams, the Farouk Lawan -Otedola affair, the multi trillion naira petroleum subsidy scam, the presidential banquet deal et al, only the very conscious would have remembered the details of the 2005 bribe-for -budget affair.
So, Nigerians who had forgotten about that alleged scam were reminded of it last weekend with reports that the trial is yet to take off more than eight years after it was initiated.
The principal accused was Senator Adolphus Wabara, then senate president, who was charged alongside some five other lawmakers for demanding bribe from the then Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji in lieu of the passage of the 2005 budget of the ministry.
The charges and the television indictment of Wabara and the other accused legislators by President Olusegun Obasanjo, was for many, a veritable evidence of the much-touted assertion that the National Assembly as claimed by Mallam Nasir el-Rufai was at that time an axis of corruption.
The humiliation for the legislators who were arraigned was unprecedented. Two of the about seven legislators have died, one from a plane mishap and another in active service at a retreat for senators in Kano.
One of the accused who your correspondent met last year and who was forced to retire from politics apparently arising from the scam at a relatively young age, spoke of the indignity of politics. He is now engaged in full time profitable business.
Another senator central in the scheme though was not prosecuted, in a private meeting, not too long ago, spoke of how he almost committed suicide on account of the alleged scam.
It is nevertheless remarkable that eight years after the issue came to national attention that the prosecution of the alleged crime is yet to get fully underway.
Today almost everyone now believes that the case was inspired by political motif. Ignorant of the third term script of those in the corridors of power in late 2004, Wabara had been induced by some crafty Igbo senators to think of himself as a potential Igbo leader who could actualize the dream of having a South-East president. It was a set up the Igbo senators and Wabara's enemies expected to attract vengeance from Obasanjo towards Wabara and then open the door for one of them to replace him.
But as it is, none of the two senators central to the script got the position. But whether it was a set up or not, the issue of the guilt of Wabara and the other accused former lawmakers remains an issue that must be fully resolved. The sluggishness of our judicial system must be of concern to everyone as it is a deterrent to the actualization of a functional criminal justice system.
Remarkably, while we are waiting for the prosecution of the Wabara group, many other scandals have surfaced and with many adjournments. It is remarkable that several former governors who have been accused of embezzlement and are facing trial are now lawmakers in the National Assembly.
In one case, a former governor who was accused by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of practically taking money from the state coffers entered the senate and became an official of the committee on anti-corruption.
It is welcoming that the Chief Justice of the Federation has taken the bold step in addressing impropriety in the judiciary. She must be encouraged to focus on the speed of the prosecution of cases and score that point that what a man can do, a woman can do, and even better!