Sunday 10 January 2010

Nigeria: Umar Farouk alone in court

Charged with news

There was some catching up to do on the news front, going through my staple of UK based news websites represented by broadsheets, CNN, BBC, Reuters and a smattering of international news aggregators.

I did not expect any particularly new information regarding the arraignment of Mr. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [1] since the newswires had reported that he had plead “Not Guilty” to the 6 charges of indictment, none of which contained any derivation of the word terror.

I fail to see why US courts put those on federal charges in leg irons apart from a sanctimonious moralising stance of humiliating the accused – it is unlikely the person would bolt having been handcuffed surrounded by armed security personnel.

It is not like the prisoners have feet like lethal weapons of some obscure martial art manoeuvre ready to decapitate or defenestrate the deputy, the overkill exaggerates beyond the laughable.

Un-present representatives

The BBC sketch [2] of the young man’s day in court suggests he had a hobbling gait possibly due to the lap burns he suffered when his underwear lit up but did not blow up – God have mercy, incredible.

It was interesting to note that there was a delegation from the Nigerian embassy in Washington taking front row seats having flown to Detroit – I cannot say if they were there to protect his interests, ensure Nigeria’s name was not further besmirched or seeking some international publicity riding in the misfortune of another countryman.

One of the diplomats confirmed to the correspondent that none of the family members had come [to court or to the United States of America? One cannot say.]; This is a man with at least 10 siblings with whom he could claim paternal affinity, a mother, an absolutely rich father [whose global business interests have been inadvertently saved the taint of terrorism by conveniently snitching on his son], a possible troop of extended relations and not one of them could deign to make an appearance at court.

Image versus fraternity

The child has seemingly been disowned for the “shame” he must have brought on the family that they would rather never be found anywhere near him – I would not read too much into this but I am sure, if any of his family had requested a visa to be present with him it would have been granted on compassionate grounds – in times of trouble, one would think families would pull together and pull all stops to offer the moral support of physical presence.

I would suppose like it has been all his life, the big-wig daddy has probably thrown filthy lucre at the problem and the wads of cash would now stand as support, succour, shoulder and shield. It is a sad commentary but one has to wait and see.

To suggest the public image and status of this influential and respected banker’s family is paramount and more significance to them than fraternal loyalty to their misguided son would be a cruel damnation.

Brief or briefed?

What I found rather surprising was that Umar Farouk might not have heard the judge correctly about what level of school he had reached because generally speaking college in English usually refers to secondary school education whereas Americans read that as university education.

The judge then asked if he had attended secondary school which really comes across as daft because it is clear from the basic information we all have about Umar Farouk that he attended UCL in London and read mechanical engineering – whilst that is University College London, the emphasis in English would have been on the university rather than the college element of that name.

Hopefully, the judge is in the element of his brief and has been properly briefed about the cases he is presiding on and this, for instance, requires the judge be quite smart and sharp by which I mean should take time to read up and be informed on the cases in his docket, particularly from other information gleaned about Umar Farouk who has a Bachelors degree and was undergoing a Masters degree programmed he should not have been slighted with the question about whether he had attended secondary school.

Make yourself clear

An affront of prejudicial and denigrating belittlement totally uncalled for, one would say; you would think the judge just arrived from Mars and was swept into court completely oblivious of the news or what he was doing in court; I am not impressed at all and it will not augur well if it is put down to a procedural question or plain absentmindedness.

It would appear the judge has to put in the effort to make himself understood because Umar Farouk again stumbled at the next question about whether he had taken medication in the last 24 hours, the detail sunk in later on and Umar Farouk corrected himself.

If he did suffer burns injuries, it is likely he would be on strong painkillers which can have the effect of causing drowsiness or tardiness and that has to be taken into consideration but one would think the judge would have been briefed about all this considering this is a high profile suspect in a case that attracts global interest.

In any case the whole procedure appeared to take just about three minutes and the correspondent could read no emotion from Umar Farouk’s face but once again as he looked around courtroom, his life’s story was read back to him in slow motion, my parents are once again AWOL – he is again, alone and lonely.

Poor child!


[1] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] BBC News - Abdulmutallab impassive in court

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