THERE is no greater injustice than the judgment of a judge which is peddled in the market place, for sale to the highest bidder. Essentially, the law courts represent the last bastion of justice and hope for the common man. It is of the highest importance that the judiciary in any country for that matter, is not only fair and just in its judgments, but is seen to be transparent and equitable as well.
Therefore, it is with unmitigated pride and applaud that I welcome the action of the DSS last week when they finally took the bull by the horn and proactively mounted an offensive against the cancer of corruption which has for decades slowly eaten away at our judiciary thereby threatening our nascent democracy. In equal parts, it is also with disdain and utter disgust that I read the contaminated views of certain blocks of public opinion, particularly the NBA which seemed to be more interested in whether the judges were arrested between the hours of nine a.m. and five p.m, rather than the shameful and deplorable fact that hundreds of millions of naira were recovered from these “honourable men of the silk”.
Corruption in Nigeria has gone way out of control. In our democracy, like others, we have three arms of government. The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. These arms are meant to act as checks and balances to one another, with the judiciary given the sole responsibility of interpreting the law as it is enshrined in the constitution or passed by the Legislature.
If the first two arms of government are corrupt then we have a big problem which we must, theoretically, correct at the next election by punishing them with our votes. If the third arm is also corrupt then what we have is a ding dong democracy. A sham. A ‘419’ Democracy, whereby politicians can flout all the electoral laws known to mankind and then bribe the tribunal judges to rule in their favour. Thereby, desecrating, our electoral laws, degrading our democracy, perverting the course of justice and most wickedly, destroying the faith of the common man in the electoral process of our young democracy. For the first time, my faith in this government which had begun to wane since the beginning of the year has been ignited with fresh fire.
I highly commend the gallantry of our security forces for the successful raids they carried out and for the government to have had the courage to bite the bullet is no mean fact, cause I know how easily the public relations war could go awry, especially when you are seen to be waging a war against an institution that is revered in every country and seen, or perceived to be above board. I, for one, inspite of the misguided, misinformed and mischievous naysayers and conspiracy theorists, gleefully welcome this audacious move by the government. If truth be told, our judiciary is rotten to the core.
Nigerians have to decide what they actually want. If we want the government to fight this all important war against corruption, then we have to lend our support to the struggle. For over a year now the government has been frustrated at every turn, in their fight against this hydra-headed monster, particularly by the judiciary. Most of the cases against those who pulverized and depleted our commonwealth are bogged down in the law courts.
There seems to be connivance on the part of the judiciary to set our looters free, as incomprehensible as this may sound. Yet to further confound comprehension, hoards of Nigerians, perhaps battered by the resultant economic hardship, seem to even support those who put them in this predicament in the first place. We must sanitize the judiciary because that is where all the cases will end up. As long as we continue to tolerate cash and carry judges, so long will our fight for the emancipation of our country continue to flounder.
When you are faced with the level of corruption, impunity and luciferian iniquity as we have in this polity, then one has to resort to extraordinary measures to come out on top. When America was faced with the level of terrorism that threatened their country, their democracy and their way of life, Congress immediately, upon request, equipped the Executive with emergency powers to tackle the debacle. The result was resounding success. If the National Assembly will not equip or furnish Buhari with the powers needed to fight this fight, then he must take it himself and use his security forces as their Commander In Chief, to do the needful, even at the chagrin of the ‘NBA’. The FBI in America on several occasions, raided the homes of judges who were found to be wanting and some were arrested, investigated and incarcerated.
Even the former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert had his offices raided and he was eventually sentenced to prison. How can people talk about procedure in apprehending evil. Meanwhile procedures were duly followed, for the DSS actually conducted investigations for months and obtained warrants before they struck according to news bulletins.
Can we not understand this particular evil can finally tip our nation over the precipice. Do we want to allow our politicians who carted away enough wealth to buy several institutions to continue to hold sway while we discuss procedure. Without this government’s audacious act and what I hope will be a strident and meticulous follow-up, we might as well pack it all up and return to business as usual. This singular act has exposed and cast asunder some powerful politicians in particular, whose strength has always been in the judiciary, because they literally have ‘shares’ in it. Now the government can face them without let or hindrance.
Finally, one might be so sincere as to point out at this juncture that there are already pre-existing pathologies within the system that led to the seemless, mindless corruption that has bedeviled our nation state of which our judiciary is actually one of its victims. This is a topic for another time. However, the bastardisation of our judiciary did contribute in no mean measure, to the moral vacuum in which brazen, luciferian iniquity metastasised.
*Mr. Nnamdi Nwokedi, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Asaba, Delta State.