Wednesday 21 May 2008

Nigeria: A desire for equality before the law

The knightly crusader without a horse

Having read the transcript of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s interview conducted by the Financial Times, I could not help but think that his knightly crusade to ensure Nigerians respect the rule of law was missing a horse.

It became very clear to me this morning as I whipped through the Nigerian dailies on the web to catch up on happenings at home.

Now, who would have thought we had our own home-grown Paris Hilton trying to play escapegoat whilst lamenting she is being made a scapegoat.

Nobbling the judge

News reaches us that the invisible Senator, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello finally appeared in court and was refused bail after the lawyer failed to sway the judge by mentioning that she was a medical practitioner, a Senator and a daughter of the ex-President of Nigeria.

To anyone, it was an innocuous plea but it was laden with menace and threats to the authority of the judge – she is no medical practitioner in a general sense, she is a veterinarian and I doubt she has ever shown medical compassion to a stray dog.

Indicating she is a profession might appeal to the professional stature of the judge, but it did not work; the view that she is a Senator is just piffle, she has not been in the Senate for a month and she was not there to present the Health Bill that finally got passed last week.

Piling on the pressure by indicating she is a daughter of the ex-President was to warn the judge that he was dealing with powerful forces in Nigeria, but that did not wash with the judge.

She only gained reprieve by being sent to police custody rather than Kuje jail.

It is in police custody that we find the bolted horse that the knightly Yar’Adua is supposed to mount for his ever so important crusade.

Enter the diva

She gets to Maitama Police Station and suddenly becomes the diva, we find that she has commandeered the place and is sleeping chief officer’s office having brought in her own bed and fan, and she arranges for the air-conditioning equipment and power generator to be fixed and gets a carpenter to fix the netting on the windows to keep out mosquitoes.

One could be forgiven for thinking the accused was banged up in police custody with creature comforts that might have one renaming the location Maitama Hilton Towers.

Obviously, influence and sycophancy has prevailed on the better judgement of law enforcement as she holds court in the police station giving us the impression that she is being lawful and respectful of the rule of law.

Influence peddling again

Well, I am getting fed up of these spoilt brats that get involved in nefarious activities, influence peddling, corrupt practices and unethical conduct who when caught by the law would cry me a river and not face up to the weight of the consequences of their actions – they almost always get off lightly as people of privilege wielding their status wherever they go subverting the course of justice.

Beyond the crusade of respect for the rule of law Sir Umaru – the great knight of the rule of law crusade – has to mount the stallion that ensures equality before the law. If she should be in an executive cell, then all prisoners should have executive cells, the culture of preferential treatment at the execution of orders of the court or the law has to stop.

I do not think the judge would be too pleased to learn that his orders have been be carried out with such levity so as to undermine his authority – send her to the executive penthouse of Kuje Prison and make sure the gates are properly locked up.

Current Developments

However, despite my protestations, she has now be granted bail, but the irony of it all must not be lost on anyone, I suppose removal men had to be called in to move her creature comforts back home.

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