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That judicial Greek gift

By Josef OMOROTIONMWAN
OKORO: My main man! Long time no see. What have you been doing with yourself? How now?

Femi: Well…. Do you really want to know how things are? I will just set the Bible aside for a while and give you an honest answer from the bottom of my heart. My dear, things are bad, very bad. Nigeria has gone gaga and there appears to be no redemption in sight.

Worse still, there is no hiding place anymore. Politics, not the good type that you and I studied at the university, but the bad type, politics the Nigerian style, has crept into every segment of our lives.

It used to be that if you were confused outside, you ran to the church to seek solace but church politics has gone so rotten that the henchmen there now throw bombs at one another. In the past, anyone who lost a dear one was just too happy to involve his brethren in the burial.

But if that happens now, you need a lot of prayers to ensure that the henchmen in charge of your church are favourably disposed to your faction of that church politics. Otherwise, rather than praying to God to accept her soul, the Priest might as well be telling the devil to come and escort her to hell.

Recently, a friend of ours who lost the wife had to quickly go and rent a Pentecostal Church to bury his wife because the Reverend in his original church belonged to a different faction of the church and he did not want to have anything to do with helping to bury an enemy. Dirty politics, eh?

Okoro:  Na wa o! You are damn right. There is no hiding place anymore. In the past, the view was popularly held that the Judiciary was the last hope of the common man. But what we now have in the Judiciary is the politics of dog-eat-dog. See how two friends; two former class mates are now dancing nude in the market place?

These are two friends who occupy the highest positions in the nation’s judiciary – the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the President of the Court of Appeal. In order of protocol, CJN is number one while the President of the Court of Appeal comes a close second, which means that the President of the Court of Appeal comes before all the other Justices of the Supreme Court.

Suddenly, the CJN wants to “elevate” the President of the Court of Appeal from his number two position to possibly the 23rd position, to wit:  the President must now vacate his second position to become the newest (shall we say the youngest?) of the 21 Justices of the Supreme Court and do not forget, he automatically has the CJN and the new President of the Court of Appeal as his superior officers. That is promotion in the reverse….

Femi: That is a Greek gift! Or, is it dirty politics in high places? Of course, you trust the victim. He has vowed to fight the vicious attack with the last drop of his blood, particularly with the wave of popular opinion on his side.

He has since headed for the Federal High Court, Abuja (a lower court than the ones over which he and the CJN preside). We do not want to believe that the CJN wants to be an arsonist and a fire fighter at the same time. All the same, he appears to have long abandoned his duty post and has taken over less relevant responsibilities.

How else can anyone explain that a man who has done nothing about the heavy backlog of disciplinary cases from the tribunals is only interested in frivolous promotions? He may have been receiving knocks from other quarters since the Appeal Court judgments in Ekiti and Osun, which were not very favourable to the largest party in Africa. Again, the concentration of too many powers in the hands of a single individual is the very prescription for tyranny.

How do we explain the fact that the Chief Justice of the Federation, in spite of the heavy cause loads of his office, is also the Chairman of both the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC)? Come on, in just the same way that the service commissions in other services – the Civil Service, the Police, the National Assembly, etc, — are headed and controlled by outsiders, we must quickly think of removing the FJSC chairmanship from the CJN and giving same to a retired Judge.

Let me shut up this big mouth before you begin to accuse me of being too hard on our CJ.

Okoro:  No, it is not a question of being too hard on anyone. Even with the CJ’s friend, it is perhaps a case of anything being fair in war, in love and in politics. By the time we have a judiciary that looks increasingly like a village square where witches go to recount the number of souls they have consumed, it will be a major tragedy.

Have we not been dragged below that level with all the confessions and sordid revelations on the Sokoto gubernatorial imbroglio? Judges are not easily given to much loquaciousness. Here and every where, people show interest in particular cases but whether the Judge dances to every such interest or not, is another ball game entirely.

But no judge worth his salt mounts a rostrum at the market square to broadcast such indicated interests. See how our man has smeared the CJ with his “menstrual flow”? Whichever way this case goes, it provides a no-win situation for the two friends and unfortunately, society is still the worse for it!


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