A COURT in Serbia sentenced Boris Tadic, the countryâ€™sÂ President, to a fine of 400 Euros or about N90, 136 for popping champagne in the VIP lounge of the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade. Serbian law bans use of alcohol at sports venues.
On December 7, the court found the President guilty of popping champagne last October 10, at the stadium while celebrating Serbiaâ€™s qualification for the 2010 World Cup over Romania.
Tadic pleaded guilty to the charge. He told the court he was unaware of the ban.
â€œI did not know that consumption of alcohol, even if only for a toast, has been forbidden so I fully take responsibility for the violation,â€ Tadic said.
He unfettered the court from whatever decision it could take. â€œI take full responsibility and I believe that, as every citizen, I should pay a fine or serve a sentence, whatever is the verdict.â€ Other officials involved in the World Cup toast also paid the fine.
Serbian law prohibits the sale or consumption of alcohol in stadia and arenas during and 90 minutes after a match.
The law is aimed at curbing hooliganism at sports venues.
Was it possible the President would have become a hooligan after a sip of champagne? It is unlikely. However, societies that take themselves serious avoid placing people above the law. They consider examples very important, and demand sterling examples from their leaders.
Can these adherences to the law which we see in other places ever happen in Nigeria where our officials and their coterie of sycophants decidedly operate above the law?
Official violations of our laws are wide-ranging. They start from stout refusal of government officials, legislators, politicians, the police, the military, security agencies and anyone who can procure a sticker to embrace safe driving. They endanger lives of other road users with impunity.
When they are not doing this, they disobey court orders, unlawfully imprison people, loot public coffers, rig elections, and generally ensure they discard the Constitution and laws they swore to obey.
For the Serbian President to have been sued for toasting with champagne in the VIP lounge, it must have been those close to him who took note of the offence. Could this have happened in Nigeria? Would the patriotic zeal of marking a sports success not have been enough reason to violate the law? Law and order are critical to the well being of society.
The sweeping immunity our President, governors and other high-ranking officials enjoy cannot explain the poor examples of these high-ranking officials in obeying laws.
Do our government officials realise as Tadic said that they are every citizen? Do they know how damaging their bad examples are to the society?
No society would progress where those entrusted with enforcing the law celebrate their lawlessness.