Hello Sam Omatseye,
Your piece of April 17, 2017 in The Nation Newspaper though thoroughgoing and excoriating both the judicial branch and the legal fraternity, got quite a few hits on home truths.
A round robin criticism would have traversed the system, and thus delivered the straight upper-cut not only on the judicial branch, and the legal fraternity, but as well on the executive branch and the legislative branch of government. When you left them out in your corruption conversation context, you made them look as though they’re peopled with farm-fresh saints at the Pearly Gates. You also didn’t take the sacrificial pain to acknowledge those judges and lawyers who are the precious few in the “supermarket” of corruption called our justice system. What your criticism brand does is kill off the morale of the precious few, who have sacrificed so much for integrity and justice. The judicial branch is a justice delivery institution composed of humans with feelings. The late jurist, Niki Tobi JSC (as he then was), might have said that law is devoid of emotion, sentiments, sensitivity and extraneous matters. Are judges and lawyers devoid of all these things though? Things are best left unsaid here.
Should it be said again that the executive branch, though headed by a supposed saint, stinks to high heavens? What about the spate of corruption allegations hanging overhead, like the Sword of Damocles, on their top people like the party head honcho, Bola Tinubu, and Raji Fashola, Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi (to mention a few)? The wallflower attitude of the exec in waging a war against alleged executive corruption isn’t good for the taste-buds any. Look at the heavy foot-dragging by the exec on the openly embarrassing SGF issue. Now he’s been suspended, and a presidential panel set up to look into his case all this while. Who knows how this ends, given the unfettered executive lawlessness, and unwillingness to caution corruption on a reclining chair right in its barnyard?
To know whether or not President Buhari, on the basis of cronyism, favouritism and nepotism, spares people from prosecution, who have mounting criminal evidence against them, please talk to Junaid Mohammed. This was a man who said he had to part ways with President Buhari, during his incarnation as the head of Petroleum & Natural Resources in Obasanjo days as the military head of Nigeria. Upon insistence by President Buhari, Junaid Mohammed sought & obtained a shocking volume of criminal evidence against someone in the ministry, who happened to be the child of a childhood friend of President Buhari. Though he was shocked when Junaid Mohammed supported the allegation with evidence, President Buhari was reluctant to prosecute, or even set up a panel of inquiry to look into the potential official fraud case, which involved multi-millions of naira in taxpayer’s money and national commonwealth.
In a fight against corruption & sleaze in the system, definitely, we can agree on quite a few number of things, to include the premium that must be placed on the judicial branch, being the last hope of the common man. The old saw goes that bribe corrupts the hands of justice. Yes, bribe money in the judicial branch is well-known. Granted. And without further ado, you as well know that the other branches are not saintly. Has the present administration vigorously prosecuted its war on corruption in other areas, the way it has done in the judicial branch? Problem with the administration is that though well-meaning, President Buhari seems to be waging a war with motive, against the judicial branch. In critically questionable circumstances, President Buhari lost a good number of court cases on electoral matters, before he finally got it the last time.
Your view on how the society sees lawyers (or better still, the SANs & judges), who would rather compromise justice for technicalities, fat money, anti-society stance and ego-trip is an apple that doesn’t fall far from the tree. You didn’t acknowledge though, the grand truth that the entire judicial realm and legal fraternity are perceived to be frustrating the legal process from achieving justice, because the executive branch is laser-focused on them alone. Is that right? Well, in every society, the judicial branch, and the legal fraternity get the first look. A society is as good as its legal justice system. The fraternity of law, and realm of justice in Nigeria are far too blind to get this factual truth into their domes. That’s a chronic myopia case. Somebody place the urgent psychoanalysis call pronto!
When the law fails, lawyers fail, society fails, and justice is lost. In recent times, especially with respect to the openly one-sided crusade against corruption by the administration, the law has failed in our collective Nigerian society. This much is an area that records an home truth. It’s a palpable hit.
On historical facts, you claimed “in Europe and the U.S., the same constitution that compelled the society to burn blacks at the stake was used to enfranchise them in the flush of the civil rights movement”. This statement is fraught with historical inaccuracies. No constitution in Britain, or Continental Europe compelled the Europeans to burn Blacks at the stake, which was later used “in the flush of the civil rights movement” for their enfranchisement. All these are real live scenarios from the United States, not from Europe.
Tell President Buhari to embrace the judicial branch, and carry it along as a co-traveller, rather than looking at it as a disgusting and corrupt entity, which must be cleansed willy-nilly. How come all the branches bring forth putrid stench, but the only one registered for cleansing is the judicial branch? Justice must be quite sad right now! Sam, your piece was for justice, but justice, according to the late jurist Oputa JSC (as he then was) is a three-way traffic: justice for the judicial branch, justice for the executive branch, and justice for the legislative branch. You see, society will be happy, at ease, and satisfied, if justice is shared across the board, with the use of law.
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar also said “what touches us shall be last served”. These are timeless words in leadership alchemy. Is President Buhari sparing his own executive branch for the last? No. This isn’t instantly obvious. The present method that sees the judicial branch as a bunch of people hungry for money instead of justice, and legal fraternity made up of “rogues and vultures” does no good to President Buhari’s military mind-set, once expressed in the nightly raid on the judges’ homes November last. This was approved by the AGF Abubakar Malami, a lawyer.
Do not just kill all the lawyers. Go a step further, kill all the judges. Let the doctors, engineers, architects, and other members of the society come argue the law and administer justice. There is your solution. The wolves, jackals, vultures and sharks are now gone. So peace, quiet and sanity are come. The anti-corruption war is won, society is perfect once again. Victory for justice.
Boulevard A. Aladetoyinbo LP