“This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice”, are words attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s great Justices (as he then was). They were uttered in response to the argument of a young lawyer who mentioned severally while arguing that his client sought justice before the court.
Again, and in response to your well-articulated exposé on the mob-action against the wellbeing of justice in our dear country, I reiterate the words of Holmes, “This is a court of law, young man, not a Court of Justice”. Of his wealth of experience, Holmes must have considered the truism of his statement before making it. How truer can this be with regard to the Nigerian Justice system, of course, and elsewhere? The Courts, or Judicial system, though esoteric are by virtue of their constitution not divine or omniscient. Sometimes therefore, and even though everyone including the Judge knows who the criminal in a case is, and as in the case presented in your last correspondence Andrew Yakubu, the courts set loose such a criminal.
Even though there were images of the stolen cache of monies and witness accounts of how the EFCC conducted the recovery of the funds, Andrew Yakubu himself admitting to being the rightful owner of the money valued at N3 Billion has subsequently petitioned a Federal High Court in Kano urging it to order the Federal Government of Nigeria to return the money to him on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction. What an affront! An effrontery against the entire citizenry of Nigeria, that is even if the FG holds no value with him. If you were caught to have stolen money and you could launch a defense, not to reclaim your dignity but a return of the looted funds and going about it shamelessly, I think the country is in a worse mess than had been previously thought. Andrew claimed it was a gift. As former MD of NNPC, a gift in foreign currencies valued at such a staggering amount and you never bothered to report it or at least lodge it in a bank. You went to hide it in a nondescript house. Hmmmm. I wonder what people term ‘the fear of God’ these days. How much of the stolen funds did he give to God? It does not appear like they even attach any significance to that name unlike people like Imaobong Akon Esu-Nte, who though was on a meager salary of about N121, 460 was sometimes in 2014 arrested by the EFCC for giving a tithe of N60 million to The Redeemed Church. Again, hmmmm. She probably had too much fear of God to have given the tithe of an income which must have been at least more than half a billion naira. I hope the church leaders that collected the tithe from her were the same persons who reported her to EFCC. If not, then something is really going down in the so-called “houses of god”.
The stories abound about children, teenagers and youth who had been lynched for snatching purses, picking pockets or such similar acts of survival. Their souls fly about in gloomy colours and if you listened well enough, you will hear their cries. Without sentimentalizing these acts or downplaying the fact that theft, in any form, deprives people of what is theirs, I cannot agree any less with you when you wrote, “we have lost our souls as a nation”. In describing the state of the nation, I revisit Holmes, “This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice”. The nation like every other, democratic or non-democratic, is run by certain laws, which were written by humans, of course with some loopholes here and there to favour the powerful. Let us not forget that you must be powerful to be privileged to make and write these laws. The last I checked, that Yoruba proverb has yet to change, Baa gboko fun were, odo ara re ni yoo roko si (translated as “Give a hoe to a mad man and he will hoe in his own direction”). What is expected is, as you have pointed out, “Their energy should be directed towards the politicians who pillage our common inheritance and condemn us and our children yet unborn to perpetual cycles of penury and poverty.” Without becoming incendiary, it is common sense that such politicians need jungle justice, the same as meted to those hungry souls now flying about, whose bodies were burnt with the transferred aggression of a hungry and disoriented mob. When such begins to happen, the politicians will learn to play to the gallery and respond with a huge magnitude of altruistic benevolence towards ‘We, the people’. However, what do you have? These same people who lynch thieves of mobile phones, sour garri and half-roast groundnuts turn around and posing as student leaders, community watchdogs and leaders, NGOs, and all sorts of citizenry-sourced organisations, celebrate in diverse ways politicians and other moneybags, whose sources of wealth are largely unknown. The highpoint of such celebration is usually the presentation of awards, which is expected to generate an equal and ‘deserving’ appreciation, not with words of gratitude but envelopes containing a part of their wealth. It beats me seeing people who do all these and continue to expect that their country will suddenly get better someday, without ever imagining that they are part of the problems.
It is good to read about the value-appreciation of the Naira. While the policy-redirection must be good for the nation, permit me to remind you that the hallmark of human interaction should ultimately be based on exchange of values. While the world has created for itself currencies with which to procure everything, is it not obvious that while some people work their asses out on farms producing food and in other places creating commodities of values, a few will rather sit like couch potatoes in front of money printer machines and print as much as they want and much more will steal from the commonwealth as much as they want in order to procure what they need from those who work their asses out. What a state of imbalance you have created for yourselves but who am I not to agree with how things are right in Nigeria and elsewhere, because contrarily, as it is in heaven so it is not on earth.
The xenophobic attacks going on in South Africa is again a reinforcement of Holmes, “This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice”. If the security personnel who are meant to protect the people of South Africa, including legal immigrants, also join the mob to maltreat foreigners, it only means that the government of that country has tacitly given a nod to the attacks. It is not about justice but the law of the land at that particular moment when one foreigner is maltreated, another is killed and the shops of some others looted. Justice takes its leave entirely when the law is on leave and the government looks away. The people for whom the government stands must come to an understanding that many governments around the world, or at different times within their country, are self-serving to say the least and must be ready to stand for themselves whenever the need arises, even if it has to be against such government.
It must be joy in all households that a “glimmer of hope” has appeared on the horizon. Incidentally, this is at a period when the President is away on medical vacation to the United Kingdom. The effects of old and new policies are being felt on the value of the Naira, the state of unrest in the Niger Delta and the general orientation and outlook of the Nigerian citizen. A lot of persons wish to content themselves with the fact that this new glimmer of hope is occasioned by the Acting President and thanks to the absence of the President. As much as that is incidental, and against the divisive comments made by some persons who would rather present the acting President as being different from the President, the Presidency of the country is just one and they have a way of working in unison. As a matter of fact, there has been statements credited to the President, who is Away With Leave, claiming that the Acting President always consults him on issues. If there must have been any plan, it must be that the President left the country, as a honourable man, in order to allow the vice president and maybe others in the Presidency to exercise their freedom at implementing some of the policy advice they must have been giving him, previously.
Lastly, and with regards to the last line in your last letter about “the desperation of a nation so blessed but still wallowing in nothingness in the midst of plenty”, what is the noise about BBNaija?
Son of Man