Image: The author, Prince Charles Dickson
Robbers enter a house, asks for all the money and valuables. After they collect what they can, they give the man of the house a gun with instructions to shoot his wife or else he be shot himself. The man gets the gun, points it at his wife and hesitates…He is thinking of what he has gone through in life with his wife and how she has suffered and sacrificed for him…
He hands back the gun and says, “I am sorry I can’t do this…”The boss of the robbers silently grabs the gun from him and passes it on to the wife with the same instruction. The wife gets the gun and without any single hesitation points to her husband’s head and pulls the trigger…But alas, the gun had no bullets in it…The robbers get their gun and walk out of the house laughing.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. If you were the man in that house how would you react towards your wife?
2. If you were the wife, what explanation can you give to your husband!
3. If you were invited to bring peace between the couple, what advice would you give?
I have chosen the narrative above to illustrate how difficult the task of a judicial system can be, besides the questions for discussion, one would agree that there are more questions than answers in the narrative, and if we have a hundred persons, we possibly would get more than a score totally different perspectives.
And that indeed is the law, and like Americans would say, “the law is an ass”, and another sage would say, ”one law for the rich, another for the poor.”
What is considered a right verdict would vary, and in almost every nation there is a political narrative and intervention required of its judicial system, its judicial officers and the law itself. However not to the extent that all that comes from it becomes laughable, like is the current case in Nigeria.
So again, it’s the same old, same old, the Nigerian judiciary once more is in the news…tribunal rulings have not gone the way of the opposition, and how time flies, who would have written a script like the one playing out, the opposition being the People’s Democratic Party PDP.
But quickly, let me ask, why are we surprised, it’s not like the governing All Peoples Congress APC in bringing change, has changed all the personnel that run the nation’s judiciary, however unfortunate, truth be told we are again witnessing unimaginable verdicts, in tribunals, while rulings at all levels of the courts have been nothing less than ‘jankara’ rulings.
While the Nigerian judiciary whether bench, bar or the beer has produced world greats in terms of legal minds, from Justice Elias, to Oputa, like Timi the law, and Gani the people’s SAM. The same judiciary has been in the last few years been nothing but disgraceful.
As I write this admonition, I state categorically that the malaise that is dealing blows on the Nigerian judiciary is episodic of our health sector, politics, engineering field, sports arena, you just name it, and you cannot but frown with angst.
Let me at this point quip in, that I am not learned, but importantly neither am I unlearned. Lest I am sued for defamation, let me state quickly that if I mention names at this junction, they are not real, but only bear a resemblance, which is only a coincidence, our judiciary has served us cases of several judges sacked for collecting bribes, this was unthinkable in the past, but these days, I even hear a prominent judge abi na justice that had “chuachua” (bribe) added to his/her name.
It is now not uncommon to hear, the justice is married to the brother or sister of the defendant, complainant and what have you, and this is when the lawyer is not outrightly asking you for “something” for the man who decides your fate.
And before you think that the problem is the bench, nope, it is the law and it’s practice that has become bastardized; agree that Nigeria while remaining the land of very great men and women, it is also the land of fakes, fake doctors, fake teachers, fake engineers, fake leaders, so I was not surprised when only last week the bar or sorry I meant the NBA, anyway they are the same stated “Sequel to the introduction of a Stamp Policy, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has discovered no fewer than 1,000 fake lawyers across the country.”
The association’s Stamp Policy was introduced to curb the infiltration of quacks into the legal profession, but it is beyond stamps. What happens when lawyers place same stamp on illegalities, it simply becomes legitimate, and it’s happening nationwide.
I have met very good lawyers, same way I have met some, you wonder if the have a diploma in law from a polytechnic, that not being an illegality, you smile wryly at examination malpractice being reported at the Nigerian Law Schools.
We operate a judiciary except for barely Lagos, and the FCT Abuja, still thrive using the old IBM typewriter, judges complain that they have to handwrite their judgments, even in Lagos, on several occasions there are power outages during hearings, and one can only imagine, visited a magistrate court that was not fit enough to be used as kitchen.
I conducted a small fraud check, I collected an affidavit from Abuja, collected another on the same matter in Bauchi, and got another from Kaduna, it was so easy, as digitalization remains a myth.
Not only are our laws steeped in the 18th century, but also the corruption within the system is ebola-like.
While one may heap all the blames on the judiciary, the question is, how much can it really do, when it lacks autonomy, it’s November, some state judiciary have only been able to shake their waist with monies last collected in February, so how do they survive, judicial workers going on strike at the expense of the innocent, while the guilty ones are not spared either.
The axiom that the courts are the poor man’s resort in Nigeria, is only on paper, as justice has become indeed, how much of the waist one can twist, would the much touted change see the judiciary or we will continue to be subjected to the macabre dance of our judiciary—Only time will tell
Prince Charles Dickson, Freelance Journalist – Research|Policy|Media|Private Investigation