By Yemisi Kehinro Alakija
History was made to our credits when President Buhari steps out to challenge the chronic corrupt Judiciary as part of his pledge to rid the country from the cancer of corruption. For decades as I can recollect from my high school days in the 90’s when I returned to the country for secondary education with my parents; by then the legal system is being subverted by dubious, discredited self-serving rogue Judges. This corrupt judges made prosecutions very difficult to pass successfully through fair and just manner from their so-called rotten corrupt courts which are not fit for a civilized society. All their behaviours are clear cut of total abuse of office, typical law school cheats.
The quality of judges of highest integrity should be the responsibility of whoever is making the decision to appoint them into the bench. One of the duties of judges is to be rigorously impartial and thorough in his or her judgement. The irony of things today in Nigeria is where judges stash millions of cash currency in their homes which are proceeds of bribery and theft of all sorts. This judges descended so low to find desperate ways to hide ill-gotten gains just as practiced by traditional government officials. It should not be a surprise to any sane mind to find judges like Sylvester Ngwuta, John Inyang Okoro, Muhammad Ladan Tsamiya, Mary Odili and others of that level got arrested.
One of the sad episode of all happenings in the country; Where are the so-called Human Rights lawyers to come out in drove to fight and strengthen the arm of persecution at the bench and to allow the exercise of the government in ridding the country from peril of corruption, so that the ordinary citizen can get simple justice. But sadly part of this was the reverse when some legal officers decided to go on strike and tried to go against the bold decision of the President who had the gut to challenge corrupt judges in our courts. The behaviour and total disregard for rule law by this entire so-called Judges is jaw-dropping. The Nigerian legal system didn’t have Judges at the bench only bunch of Judas. Why is the NBA shielding these cheap low level garage criminals?
This event reminds me of a great British parliamentarian named John Locke in 1690, who once quoted “Where law ends, Tyranny begins”. These Judges took advantage of vulnerable ‘innocent’ unsophisticated society who believed strongly in sacrosanct authority they hold over the society. Sadly enough, these are just Common Street Pick-pockets sitting at the bench, serious cases are thrown out at random out of the court left, right and centre by many of the Judges as long as bribes are not forthcoming. Their whole integrity has sunk totally beyond repair, Nigeria as a nation-state has rotten ugly rogues on the bench. Thomas Jefferson would be turning in his grave to know that blacks are sitting on the bench; David Hume equally has now been vindicated about his expressed opinion. Jeremy Bentham father of Utilitarian felt troubled about position of law.
This tatterdemalion of the bench totally undermined the rule of law of democracy due to their selfishness and greed. The well respected Economist magazine published Rule of Law in Africa; this from World Justice Project. Nigeria ranks very low at 96. Lowest adherence to rule of Law (2016). Nigeria was classified as “Fantastically Corrupt” by former Prime Minister of United Kingdom which would be madness to argue. But few have pillaged the nation’s wealth through a very vicious orgy of corrupt practices from common civil servants, private sectors to appointed senior government officials.
Nigeria is caught between Hope and Hopelessness. Many conferences I bear witness to, the legal system in Nigeria are usually talked of concern. They view many of this Judges as self-serving not serving the need of the people. This is why great lawyers like Cicero, Thomas Moore and Calvin Coolidge are emotional and very concerned about the framework of law on society. Even radical political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli during his time advocated for fair and just law in a nation-state.
There are writers that are unable to comment or push views on the present state of corruption in the country. Few of Nigeria writers are very loud, relentless and self-publicist for cheap fame rather than engage on present situation the country finds itself. Writers that lack the capacity to engage on critical pre and post-colonial thought, only to settle for easy convenient popular village stories told under the tree with shining moon to compliment it. Many of them lack serious critical direct arguments or wider debates about the kind of society we want to live in.
Things got so bad when the President was pushing for further reforms to move the country forward, when an opportunist so-called local self-styled singer-entertainer call for general public protest against progress that the government is thriving to achieve. I was very glad to learn that a top academic dismiss the local entertainer as a common illiterate. For me I have nothing to add to that interjection by the academic, it is well said. These are part of the problems to encounter in undeveloped ‘open-society’ where locally manufactured self-styled misfits celebrities cartoon characters who are with mental inadequacies and lacks the meaning of living in meaningful nation-state which needs accountability to its citizens.
Who are these so-called bland misfits’ celebrities that mooch on foreign values with sub-standard abilities; they encircled themselves with regressive entertainment materials which are dispensed loosely upon society for consumption. Their priorities and values system is abysmal, reasons for this probably lies in their background and level of personal developments. Some of the people I talked to have witnessed decades and years of mismanagement and endemic corruption which has exacerbate serious strains on the society. On top of this, we are indirectly forced to accept unpatriotic shameless characters who have served one way or the other with short stints international organisation likes of the IMF/World Bank, sponsored to represent interests of external bodies in order to tidy up work under legacy of History of debts in Nation-States. This group of people keep lobbying behind closed doors for ministerial posts in the country not for our national interests, but for other interests as vulture parades. We are so dysfunctional that we are unable to produce Thinkers only to produce Thieves by compulsion across all disciplines.
It could be well argued that series of corrupt practices that is happening in Nigeria is going on in other countries which are fairly developed above Nigeria, but they are drastically doing something about it. I was in South Korea when the court sentenced head of Samsung Lee Jae-Yong to five years imprisonment for crimes that helped toppled the country’s President Su Park Geun-Hye, her father was the late fearless military and national hero that lays the foundation for South Korea economic miracle developments they enjoys today.
In Brazil 89 civil officials including law officers were arrested and over 3billion dollars recovered. In Mexico an Attorney General was arrested for drugs, corruption and money laundering. In India warrants for arrests was served to seven Judges as judicial order in the interests of the nation to protect the general public.
Today, we should be thankful to the President who has been consistent and up in arms in challenging corruption right from his days as a military officer.
Whatever happens to the future of Nigeria in terms to come?.
Historians would have a very large chapter for President Muhammad Buhari as a man who means well and very passionate about his country.
[About the author: Yemisi B. Keshinro-Alakija writes from Vancouver ]