By Denrele Animashaun
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”- Leonardo da Vinci.
The blinkers are finally slipping off the eyes of die-hard Nigerians, who have just cotton on to what many have been saying so loudly, for so long. It is one that they customarily brushed aside, with the usual “God save Nigeria! Or “Nigeria will get better”.
Such gullible people do so because they are fearful of causing a ripple or they do not want to face the facts that Nigeria has been progressively declining for so long and they failed to be part of the solution. Well, the penny (or the Kobos) has finally dropped.
The perception index of Transparency International ranked Nigeria 144th out of the 146 countries, beating Bangladesh and Haiti to the enviable last position, is nothing to be proud of.
The United States was amongst the countries that have been very vocal that Nigeria is not doing enough to tackle corruption and they went as far as to describe the Jonathan led administration as ineffectual; not implementing the law, but perpetuating and engaging in corrupt practices with unrivalled impunity.
They said in 2011, that “There was a widespread perception that judges were easily bribed and that litigants could not rely on the courts to render impartial judgments,” and that “citizens encountered long delays and alleged requests from judicial officials for bribes to expedite cases or obtain favourable rulings.” Sounds familar then? So nothing has changed then?
Anti-corruption laws in Nigeria seem to be about window dressing, grand standing as the practice pervades thevery stratum of our society. The worse of all is that the practice continues unabated without fear of consequences. It seems the higher up the corruption, the more the licence to continue without scrutiny or they seem immune and above the law.
Pardon me for stating the obvious: Our justice is an ass. We have known this all along but we hoped that there are those who are sworn to uphold the law and dispense justice to deter wrong doings and punish the guilty will adjudicate without bias and dispense appropriate sentence that fits the crime .
Ordinary Nigerians are left exposed and with no system to protect and serve the interest of any law abiding citizens.
So when will we collectively realise why there is so such fecund jungle justice, mob rule and anarchy in the country? We all know what is wrong with Nigeria but it is exasperating that it took this long for people to seek restorative justice?
The latest miscarriage of justice is the final nail in the coffin on common decency.
Here is the present situation in Nigeria: the police cannot serve or protect the citizens; our politicians are hell-bent in plundering the national coffers, misappropriating funds meant for essential services, safe roads, health care, education and maintenance of structures and systems. So the last bastion of legal protection and the defender of law can be bought and it is patently peddling its services to every get rich, disgraceful law breaking common, grand- scale thief.
In Abuja, there was an understandably public outcry to reaction of the two-year sentence for John Yusuf, a former director on the police pension office, who pleaded guilty for stealing N23 billions of N40 billion stolen from the Police Pension fund ( as if the police aren’t in enough trouble already) was staggering, it is shocking the amount that was stolen.
Then what happens next could have been the stuff of movies, sadly it was not, the Presiding Justice, Abubakar Talba in his immeasurable wisdom, gave this grand thief a get out of jail card… an option of N750, 000 fine. Of course, the thief took the option, it is nothing to him just loose change. He paid and went home to his ill-gotten wealth. So who tells you that crime does not pay? John Yusuf knows so!
What message is this man of the robe sending out to the likes of Yusuf; that crimes pay and it buys legal preferential treatment. Six days prior to the Abuja judgement, an Abeokuta Magistrate Court sentenced 49-year-old, Mustapha Adesina, to two years imprisonment for stealing vegetables worth N5, 000. Adesina had an option of N10, 000 fines.
He was jailed under Section 309 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 532, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria. The law says Adesina who stole vegetables worth N5,000 is far worse than someone who stole N23 billion, and besides, he was not clever enough. He should have stolen more so that he can buy his freedom with a relative paltry sum.
It is natural for people to act when they have been pushed so far and there is nowhere left to go. So when pushed to the absolute edge, there are only two options: to fight or flee . They have to fight with whatever is left.