Tuesday 12 January 2016

Nigeria: Our drool of flaws

A fantasy at best
Late last night I posted a cryptic tweet about a perception of the rule of law in Nigeria.
In the Presidential Media Chat conducted recently, President Muhammad Buhari appeared to express strident and incalcitrant views towards the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu and Sambo Dasuki against presumed rulings of the courts.
Suddenly, we all became constitutional experts on the matter of the 'rule of law' and implicitly the 'separation of powers'. Follow the links for definitions.
The executive in the person of the president could not be seen to be sacrilegiously disobeying court orders infringing on the rights of citizens and thereby arbitrarily instituting a seemingly extrajudicial process.
The underlying issue
President Buhari having been at the head of the armed forces and of the generation that fought to defend the integrity and entity of Nigeria could not have concealed his anger and the sense of betrayal if as a foot soldier he was sent into battle ill-equipped as the actions of Sambo Dasuki portrayed when he diverted moneys for arms to fight Boko Haram to currying political favours for the ruling party or the sense of duty he had when Nigeria faced secession in the Civil War and we had Nnamdi Kanu soliciting weapons to fight a war for a new Biafra in Nigeria.
As an ex-soldier what Sambo Dasuki did was beyond a civil infraction, it was criminal in the extreme and if he were still in the military, a court martial will have been instigated and guilt will have led to execution.
If at any time Dasuki would have wanted a reckoning of his military service regardless of government dispensation, it goes without saying that the one of his disservice to the military must be addressed with equal vehemence.
A martyr to stupidity
Nnamdi Kanu could well have advocated for a Biafra movement by civil and democratic means, but once he started soliciting for weapons for his cause to buttress his telegraphed incitements by radio, he had crossed the line from having a civil case to threatening the integrity of Nigeria.
His effrontery of leaving his vituperative armchair of comfort in the UK to visit Nigeria for whatever purpose was as much the stupidity of sticking your head in the gaping mouth of a hungry lion. He was not going to sashay around Nigeria with his propaganda given free rein and the means to equip his followers with arms to create a new front beside what we face in the north east with Boko Haram.
If he seeks martyrdom, he will assuredly die for nothing, but having cast himself as a seeming enemy combatant and a possible threat to Nigeria's peaceful existence, he invariably forfeited his rights to roam free. His UK citizenship is by naturalisation, it does not excuse him from sanction if he has violated Nigerian law and he consequently entered Nigerian territory.
If either man is aggrieved by their treatment, they must exhaust the judicial process and I have as yet not seen a Supreme Court ruling that the executive has ignored.
No law on which to rule
On the matter of the fight against corruption, despite having the EFCC and the heft of the state behind it, most of the highest profile indicted have literally run rings round the system.
The EFCC has never been able to land any big whales, only small fry have seen the full force of the law.
Money is so awash in the system and most big fish have been able to buy the justice they want rather than face the justice that is right, just and fair.
They troop an embarrassment of SANs into court and either by intimidation or unbelievable sophistry obtain the most incredibly atrocious rulings that leaves everyone stunned.
Case in point is Peter Odili's perpetual injunction where the defendant had not even conclusively proven his case. John Yakubu Yusuf who stole NGN 32.8 billion from the police pension fund and was handed a two year sentence or the option of a NGN 250,000 fine. James Ibori who resisted arrest with a militia in Nigeria and only came a cropper in Dubai at the behest of the British, it is like we have no law on which to rule that the prospect of a rule of law in Nigeria is a fallacy. We have institutionalised the immunity for impunity, if you have the means to buy it.
An egregious judiciary run amok
There is no doubt that our judiciary is in need of radical reform, much as the process of legal redress needs scrutiny, whether by purge or by re-education, the criminal justice system in Nigeria is crippled by procedure and maimed by excess of influence of power and money.
There is a need to win battles within the greater wars and somehow, the Dasuki impasse is yielding interesting dividends, a method to the madness of the tail wagging the dog, because people who took money are fessing up without prompting.
It would appear an extrajudicial process of denying Dasuki bail and freedom is putting the fear of God and a semblance of conscience into the heart of thieves, it is a better result than we have ever been able to get without international assistance or from our courts.
Maybe there is hope
Fix the system and then use and test the system, however, before we get bogged down with a messed up system and a moribund war against corruption towards our aspirations of a Utopian rule of law, the burden of responsibility is on the government to pursue its aims to a satisfactory conclusion.
Those who have sinned, be prepared to far unusual justice and rue the law, those who haven't have nothing to fear, the expectation of the rule of law and they must continue to pursue their Nigerian dreams in hope, in peace and in all the determination they have to hand and heart.

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