Saturday, March 21, 2009



The peculiarity of the Nigerian nation cannot be over emphasized. It is true that we are the most populous black nation in the world, it is true that we are abundantly blessed in material and people resources and it is also very true that we have been cursed with very incompetent and visionless leadership ( if I am allowed the expression) right from independence.
Ironically this is the same nation that has produced human right activists, a Nobel Prize winner, renowned legal luminaries and writers, scientific ground breakers and the like. It is one of the countries in the world that boasts of the best brains. Nigerians value education so much that illiteracy is almost regarded a stigma. Nigerians have been so exposed and involved in the western civilization that once it was thought that it was an emerging black power.
In drawing light on the role of the country in the African continent and the rest of the world, it would not be an exaggeration to state that its presence has been felt, either positively or negatively. This is a country that challenged its former colonial master on the continued support of the apartheid regime in South Africa. It is the same country that was the most vocal in the advocating for the release of former South African president, Nelson Mandela and a forerunner in the maintenance of peace in the West African sub region, playing big brother to its neighbours. Following the “giant strides” of Nigeria in ensuring the adherence of its African brothers for law and order, the country seems to be living in direct contradiction to the very principles it appears to be championing. The current president of the country, President Umar Yar Adua upon his election declared the rule of law as the watchword of his administration but I am yet to see any evidence that there has been adherence to the very principles of the rule of law.

Well, I have not come to preach or
echo what has been said over and over by other learned writers and political commentators. The crux of the matter here is Nigerians are yet to understand the moral implications of the rule of law, despite all the feats accorded to the nation in the areas of education and exposure. Whether educated or uneducated, whether rich or poor, justice has been meted on those unfortunate souls that were caught on the wrong side of the “law”. From the beating and stripping of an innocent woman by the armed personnel attached to a naval big wig to the bloodlust of angry mobs who burn robbery suspects, I wonder if being classified as one of the happiest people on earth has meddled with our duty towards one and other. A careless attitude pervades the nation like a cancerous tumour, it is fast spreading.
Only recently in the ever bustling Lagos Island, just like the other times that have gone unnoticed by the government, a Nigerian like you and I, a human being with the same physical attributes like everyone else was beaten and burnt to death like an animal by his irate court made up of a gross assembling of persons no better than himself after being sentenced to death by their twisted sense of justice on the allegation that he was a robber. A close friend of mine having witnessed this nightmare was psychologically affected and traumatized. I am alarmed even as I begin my transition to the bar that my country is yet to understand the infallibility of human rights. And this is something we should be ashamed of; we are gradually losing our sense of humanness and decency. And yet, the majority is looking the other way. So why are we offended when we visit foreign lands and get the cold treatment. Owing to the advancement of information technology, our secrets are no longer secrets; the world watches and takes note.
From the fanatical dexterity with which the perpetrators of this heinous crime carried out
their bizzare act, they were satisfying the requirement of justice but where did they leave the policeman? Does this mean that the average Nigerian sees the policeman as a check point personality subject to #20 bribes and “kola”? I feel bitter at the frustration that has seeped into the brain of Nigerian owing to the lack luster performance of successive regimes, whether military or civilian. Every nation comes out of its learning phase, armed with the mistakes of the past and ready to take on the challenge of change but unfortunately Nigeria is determined to be left behind. Even in the United States, execution of criminals with capital offences is being contested on the ground that it achieves nothing. But in my dear country Nigeria, robbers who might have been pushed to engage in criminal activities owing to his peculiar circumstances are roasted to death. Am I excusing the robbers who have at one point or the other left sorrow, pain and anguish in their wake? No, all I am saying is, there should be a fair trial of every person regardless of the crime alleged against him. It is against the rule of law to deny anyone his right of fair hearing as guaranteed under section 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I want to appeal to Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola who most of my peers tend to regard to as the SAN with a sound mind, to look into this matter as it doesn’t augur well with his position as a custodian of the law. So far the governor has earned the respect of every Nigerian including those in other states on his hardliner stance on disorder and lawlessness. It will be an additional feather to his cap to curb the excesses of people who take the law into their hands and execute criminals through the use of car tires and petrol. I also want to appeal to President Umar Yar Adua to pursue and effectively put the right measures into place for the rule of law to thrive. I refuse to believe that we are beyond redemption despite all that the country has suffered from independence till date; I refuse to believe that those who burn robbers are beyond help. They are also victims of a society left on the brink of moral collapse. I appeal to the good in everyone, let us reject the depravity of jungle justice. It reduces us to the Stone Age and destroys the promise of democracy. Mr. President, Mr. Governor, I leave this at your doorstep.

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