“True freedom requires the rule of law and justice, and a judicial system in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others”- Jonathan Sacks.
CORRUPTION in Nigeria is a fundamental denial of citizens’ equal rights and an institution which prescribes socio-economic injustice as a way of life. A corrupt judge is doubly a traitor; on one hand, he is a traitor to the ideals of democracy and justice which he is sworn to uphold; on the other hand, he is a traitor to his country and to its spirit, if we are to agree that most modern democracies are founded upon certain principles which include unassailable rights for all.
However, Nigeria is not one of those countries, and for this reason, one finds some apologists of corruption finding all sorts of reasons to explain why it is wrong to arrest or “go after” judges who are suspected of subverting justice, taking bribes, etc.
As we protect corrupt judges, lawyers, their clients and pay masters, let us also think about the Nigerian masses who suffer because the political and business elite in this country use the judiciary to ensure that we are all slaves at their mercy.
How do we not see the direct link between corruption and economic failure in Nigeria? How many MDs of failed companies and industries have been absolved of all criminal intent by corrupt judges, resulting in thousands of jobs lost and entire sectors of our economy crippled? How many elections have been stolen by conflicting rulings, therefore ensuring talentless, idealess individuals come to power? How can anyone claim there is something wrong with remedying such a situation where some feckless judges, at the bequest of their employers, hold our economy and society to ransom?
Public administration in Nigeria continuously follows the British imperial and colonial template: a country’s resources, its wealth and labour serve the interests of the elite. We merely substituted the British for a new rent collecting few who see Nigeria as a private enterprise. Where is the rule of law in all of that? I wish we’d expend as much energy defending the rights of ordinary Nigerians, whose salaries are hardly ever paid on time (if at all). How does a judge, a civil servant, earning what he or she does, find himself (or herself) in possession of millions in foreign currency? How do Nigerian judges afford lavish weddings, cars and properties? We have lost the habit of being honest with ourselves. How can we call the arrest or prosecution of corrupt persons “anarchy”? The real lawlessness, the real chaos, is the situation we find ourselves in today, spent and unimaginative rentiers, after decades of profiteering, of stealing from the state and the people. Where was justice then?During military rule, many sold their souls, some lawyers assisted our rulers to sell Nigerians to foreign companies for profit.
During our so-called return to democracy, they were often on the side of the business and political mob responsible for our perennial woes. There had to be a reckoning. One can only hope that besides arrests and fanfare, prosecutions and sentences ensue. Only such shockwaves can stifle corruption and return our national psyche to its original setting: a productive mind-set, one where people work for their wages rather than seek to defraud the state and its citizens.
Honest people are cheated without redress, every day in Nigeria, yet some civil servants, whose job it is to right said wrongs are on the side of their oppressors and are alleged to be building no less than seven houses at the same time and to keep billions of naira in cash hidden away in their homes.
How can anyone mean well for Nigeria and confidently claim such people shouldn’t be investigated, arrested and prosecuted? It isn’t enough to retire corrupt judges. It also isn’t enough to retrieve their loot. I hope that the average Nigerian, the ordinary man suffering the most from this recession, won’t allow himself to be used.
Corruption is indefensible. Corruption breeds economic distortions. A distorted economy (one where people consume but don’t produce) cannot withstand shocks (i.e. a drop in oil prices). We may have seen this all before, the arrests and grand pronouncements but let’s be wiser this time Nigerians, and force those in power to do well by us.
The President’s biographer
WAS an American chosen to write the President’s official biography? Expatriates often mock the African propensity to grant honour and accolades to foreign nationals over their own citizens: if there are two similar projects by two similar individuals, the only difference being that one is White and one Black, the White person almost always wins.
Perhaps if a Nigerian had written the biography, he would have been able to stick to certain facts such as the scenario which led to the Vice President’s emergence.
Google being the friend of every researcher, one will find many articles quotingPresident Buhari’s recognition of Tinubu’s personal support which led to his emergence as the APC’s presidential candidate.
It was widely reported at the time that Buhari, representing the CPC in the APC merger, got the presidential slot while the ACN got the vice presidential slot. The Vice President is also a well-known associate of Bola Tinubu. So one wonders where John Paden, the President’s biographer got his information.
Yet another electoral reforms committee! Committees seem to be somewhere inbetween “jobs for the boys” and distractions. What more could this new committee come up with after the Justice Uwais committee, inaugurated a few years ago? Wasn’t the former Senate president, Ken Nnamani the head of the committee which examined electoral law reforms during the 2004 National Confab? To be honest, is there much difference between the findings of Obasanjo’s confab and Jonathan’s? The real problem with Nigeria isn’t exactly our laws (although some do need to be modernised) it is the will to uphold them.
Ken Nnamani who once endorsed IBB for President (who therefore might not see any wrong in the annulment of elections, if his support of the man behind June 12 means anything) is a curious choice to preside over electoral reform, his refusal to support OBJ’s third term notwithstanding.
THE actress has been vilified by a conservative section of the Muslim population in the North for “hugging” a man in a music video. She was thus banned from Kannywood, the Hausa film industry. I’ve often asked in this column who’ll have the courage to stand up to those who hide behind culture and tradition to advocate for a negation of women’s rights. From the issue of child brides, to female genital mutilation, to girls’ education, we have a serious problem in this country with limiting women, their rights and their potential, be it political or in this case, artistic.
Besides the argument that films are not real life, we need to tackle “real life” and the injustices perpetrated in the name of religion. We need to make it clearer to all that we are indeed a secular state; but we’ve allowed Sharia courts and other traditional courts for decades, so many Nigerians legally exist under two often competing jurisdictions. However, if we were to really study our history and look at pre-colonial norms or what obtained in pre-Islamic Northern society, we would see there is a difference between Hausa culture and Islamic culture. Unfortunately, it is no longer in the political interests of certain radicals to admit this.
Furthermore, how can Miss Sadau be banned from the “Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria” for would-be non-adherence to Islamic values when the association itself is secular and precisely non-Islamic (or Christian for that matter)? Historically, culturally, Nigerian women have always been free. They’ve been leaders in their own right. Their oppression is politically motivated, so is the radical interpretation of religion, all done to keep populations subservient. What leader will have the courage to agree?