‘Trump’s indictment, arrest, lesson for Nigerian political system’

Trump’s indictment, arrest, lesson for Nigerian political system’

In a historic turn of event, Donald Trump has surrendered in Georgia on charges of plotting to overturn the state’s 2020 election results in an arrest that saw the first ever mugshot of a former U.S. president.

Trump had to pay a bail bond of $200,000 (£160,000) to be released from the Atlanta jail, while he awaits trial. Afterwards, he described the case as “a travesty of justice.”

This is his fourth arrest in five months in a criminal case, but this was his first police booking photo. Trump later posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, for the first time since January 2021. He shared the address of his website and the mugshot with an all-capital letters caption: “Election interference. Never surrender!”

He joins the ranks of American public figures who have had arrest booking photos, including Frank Sinatra, Al Capone and Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Trump argues that the cases against him are politically motivated because he is leading the Republican race to challenge President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in next year’s presidential election.

Speaking on the lessons the Nigerian political system can garner from his arrest, foreign affairs analyst, Henry Ugwu, said it is an indication that in any democracy where the rule of law is sacrosanct, nobody is above the law.

He explained that whether the charges preferred against Trump were well-founded or politically motivated, the relevant issues now fall within the purview of the Judiciary to make pronouncements of guilt or innocence.

Ugwu opined that the type of robust and independent investigations, and trial which the former President has been subjected to, is not a likely occurrence in Nigeria.

He stated that the media is rife with multiple allegations of massive corruption by former Presidents in Nigeria, yet no concrete steps have ever been taken to properly investigate and prosecute these individuals.

It shows that the criminal justice system in Nigeria, he said, is inferior to certain highly placed individuals in the country.
“This manifestly blemishes the principle of rule of law in Nigeria, as all individuals are not subject to the law.

“This is why the numerous calls from many quarters in Nigeria for a reform of the criminal justice system are imperative. A system where it is believed that certain individuals are superior to the law cannot build credible institutions that enhance justice. There is a dire need for critical reforms in the Nigerian criminal justice system,” he declared.

Also, former dean, Faculty of Law, Abia State University (ABSU), Prof. Sampson Erugo (SAN) said the turn of events in America should serve as a significant lesson for the Nigerian political system.

“We can still recollect that Trump’s actions after early results had shown he lost the election, gave wrong signals about the American democracy and democratic institutions. However, Trump’s recent indictments in Washington and especially the most recent arrest, have vindicated the almost infallibility of the American democratic system,” he said.

He stated that in the first place, Trump’s arrest is a lesson to Nigerian politicians to appreciate that power is transient and that everyone could be made to account for every act of impunity while in office.

“The arrest confirms that the rule of law is supreme and no respecter of persons. That’s our hope for Nigeria. Generally, and essentially, Trump’s travails are pointer to working and enabled democratic institutions that the Nigerian political system must emulate,” he added.

According to Erugo, the American democratic institutions are working almost independently of the persons or groups in power and attend to the ills of the system, notwithstanding how powerful the culprit is.

The American criminal justice system, he explained, is transparent and straightforward, and the present case flowed from thorough investigation that it is difficult to relate the charges as witch hunt by the present government.

“The Nigerian system must learn to stop the witchhunt of political opponents, allowing the institutions to develop and work transparently and independently in the public interest,” he advised,” Erugo said.

For the Professor of Political Science, Lagos State University (LASU), Kayode Soremekun, Nigeria has an entirely different social formation and history from America, so no lessons can be learnt from Trump’s arrest.

He said Nigeria would have to respond to the specifics of her history and narratives

“America is so different from Nigeria. In America, ostensibly the rule of law triumphs, making them look like a society that embodies all virtues. There is no basis for comparison, Nigeria would have to work out on its own terms, same with America.

“Let everyone not be carried away with the euphoria of what is happening in America and begin to talk about its contagious effect on Nigeria. Nigeria would on her own terms work out her nationhood,” he said.

Trump is the first former or serving American president ever to be so indicted in the history of the country. He made the round trip from New Jersey on his private jet on Thursday afternoon.

Trump was whisked to Fulton County Jail by a more substantial motorcade than he has used for previous court appearances this year. Earlier last week, he was charged with attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat in the state of Georgia.

Trump, who is the leading Republican candidate for president in 2024, was indicted alongside 18 other allies. He denied all 13 charges against him, which include racketeering and election meddling, saying they are politically motivated.

Georgia prosecutor, Fani Willis, first launched an investigation in February 2021 into allegations of election meddling against Trump and his associates.

In a 98-page indictment made public late on Monday, prosecutors listed 41 charges against the 19 defendants. Willis announced she was giving defendants the opportunity to voluntarily surrender not later than noon on Friday, August 25. She said she plans to try all 19 accused together.

The list of alleged co-conspirators includes former Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows and former White House lawyer, John Eastman.

Others include a former justice department official, Jeffrey Clark; Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, two Trump lawyers who allegedly amplified unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.

The indictment says the defendants “knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favour of Trump”.
The former president is accused of the following felony counts, including: violating Georgia’s racketeering act, solicitation of violation of oath by public officer, conspiracy to impersonate a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree and false statements, writings and filing false documents.

The indictment refers to the defendants as a “criminal organisation”, accusing them of other crimes including influencing witnesses, computer trespass, theft and perjury.

The most serious charge, violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico) Act, is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The act, designed to help take down organised criminal syndicates like the mafia, helps prosecutors connect the dots between underlings who broke laws and those who gave them orders.

In a statement, the Trump campaign described the district attorney as a “rabid partisan” who had filed “these bogus indictments” to interfere with the 2024 presidential race and “damage the dominant Trump campaign”.

“This latest co-ordinated strike by a biased prosecutor in an overwhelmingly Democrat jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people, but also exposes the true motivation driving their fabricated accusations,” said the statement. He is the first former president in the history of America to face criminal charges.

There was confusion earlier on Monday when a list of criminal charges against Trump appeared on a Fulton County website before the grand jury had voted to return an indictment.

The filing said Trump had been charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud and making false statements.A spokesperson for Ms. Willis said the document was “fictitious” but did not explain how it ended up on the court’s website.

Mr. Trump and his allies took advantage of the apparent clerical error to claim that the process was rigged. Ms. Willis’ investigation focuses specifically on Georgia, a key battleground state for the American presidency that Trump narrowly lost to President Joe Biden.

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