• Saturday, June 22, 2024
businessday logo


The power of democratic institutions

The power of democratic institutions

For the past few months, the Florida resort residence of former President Donald J. Trump has hosted agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DoJ)

According to the Washington Post, The FBI’s unprecedented raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club has split the US, with Democrats calling to “lock him up” and Republicans railing that it’s more political harassment of Mr Trump by a partisan Justice Department.

Since the unprecedented Aug. 8 search at Mr Trump’s residence and office at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, some lingering questions have been answered with the Justice Department’s release of the search warrant and a heavily redacted warrant used to obtain the search warrant.

The agents told a judge that none of the rooms at Mr Trump’s residence had been authorized for storing classified information. They said Mr Trump might store the materials in his residential suite, his “45 office,” and other locations at Mar-a-Lago that put them at risk of being used “to injure the United States.” Recall Trump’s tango with Putin during his presidency is still fresh in our minds. The question of the Russians have something on Trump comes to mind all over again

Long story short the boxes were removed to the National Archives despite the protest by President Trump and his legal team .

Ironically and embarrassingly same types of classified documents have been found in President Joe Biden’s home office in Delaware and former office as Vice President in Washington D.C.

It was further reported by the BBC that classified documents had been found on 2 November 2022 at the Penn Biden Center, a think-tank the president founded in Washington DC. Joe Biden a long time Senator and Vice President cannot claim not to know the rules. Is Joe Biden and gaffes back to our lives again ? Fox news would definitely brand him pot calling Trump a kettle black . Democratic Institutions do not tolerate double standards and Joe Biden would not be left off the hook easily.

A second batch of records was found on 20 December in the garage at his Wilmington home, while another document was found in a storage space at the house on 12 January, his lawyers said.

After finding the documents, the president said his team immediately turned them over to the National Archives and the Justice Department. It is not clear why Mr Biden had kept them.

Read also: OPS raises concern as disinformation threatens businesses

Under the Presidential Records Act, White House records are supposed to go to the National Archives once an administration ends, where they can be stored securely. One wonders why Biden kept the documents. This may be a talking point for the Republican Congressional house Committee on the activities of the Biden family.

A special counsel, Robert Hur, has been appointed to lead the investigation into how the sensitive documents were handled.

The lengthy search and subsequent discovery of more documents is a political headache for the president, as he prepares to declare whether he will run for a second term in 2024.

Both cases clearly holds lessons for Nigeria. First , the law is the law and no body is above the law be it serving or retired President. Second, Nigeria must build strong institutions that would serve and preserve its democracy very well. Third , strong institutions don’t know names , offices or people. Same week the Lancashire police queried the British Prime Minister Mr. Rishi Sunak for failing to wear a seatbelt while riding in a car. Sunak, who was filming a social media clip at the time of the offense, received a “conditional offer of fixed penalty” by the Lancashire Constabulary.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the British leader “will of course comply” with the penalty. “The Prime Minister fully accepts this was a mistake,” the spokesperson added.

Sunak’s spokesperson had previously said on 6Thursday that Sunak apologized for a “brief error of judgment” while he filmed an Instagram video in northern England, and urged people to wear their seatbelt. Sunak appears to not be wearing his seat belt in this screen grab taken from a social media video on January 19, 2023.

Lancashire Police said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seat belt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.

“After looking into this matter, we have today (Friday, January 20th) issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.” In the UK, failure to wear a seatbelt when one is available can result in a fine of up to £500, unless you are covered by a valid exception.

This is the second time police have fined Sunak while he holds public office. In August 2022, Sunak, then finance minister, and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson were fined by police over lockdown -breaking parties held on UK government premises.

The convoy of Nigerian politicians would drive against the traffic and harass other road users in the process and no charges or mention is made of such incident.

Its very interesting how the Prime Minister was presented *42 year old man from London* that have committed an offence and must be penalised.

Nigeria was inching close toward building such an institution in our Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu but team *Corruption Nigeria* ensured he was eased out of office and the systems around him that made the agency vibrant were all watered down till this day. Despite the huge support the Americans gave the EFCC and the strides made in the early years, the agency seems to lack the vigour of initial years.

Good systems and institutions are the ones that can call the Trumps , Bidens and Sunaks of this world to order. Nigeria must tow the route of developing and empowering her institutions for the good of the people and polity.

Michael Umogun is a chartered marketer and public policy analyst.