Judges and posterity
FRIDAY Column BY Engr. Abubakar A. Fari
When it comes to making comments on judges, the “learned”, and with many “suspects” in the act, one should try to handle with care. But on second thoughts, one could go full blast, since as they say, the law is no respecter of persons. That includes the judges as well. So that under the dispensation one cannot live by do as I say but not as I do. Yet, for many of our “learned” and “respected” judges, it would seem they have followed the dark corners and the evil whispers of their hearts. Buhari, the game changer is no respecter for persons when it comes to corruption. The learned judges are to be heard but not to be seen. With some being arraigned for don’t do what I say in the courts of law, the chickens, once more are coming home to roost.
There are many views to start the discourse. Is it to continue by saying that the law is “blind” so does not see “who is who”? Nor does it care one is a so-called who is who. Or one is tempted to start with what the late Grand Khadi Ibrahim Dodo of former Kaduna state stated in an interview with the NTA that judges are “destined for hell”. The fearless Grand Khadi was bold and as I learnt had cause to confront Buhari then the military Head of State over the civilian or “draconian” arrests of the wild cat politicians of 1979 era. His advise was that law should be applied not in the military fashion or so with sentiments but with balance any time.
There are three types of judges in the purview of Sharia jurisdiction. One is the learned and upright judge who applies the law without fear or favour, regardless. Second is the learned but a crooked judge who is known for judicial summersault in judging between men. Third is the ignorant judge who passes judgments off-head or with lack of due process. Under the spiritual plane, the second and third are without doubt destined for Hell fire in the view of Islamic scholars. One of the reasons many Muslims up north before now avoided becoming a lawyer or judge is the perception that, it would be difficult to escape the damnation of hell as Jesus son of Mary cursed any Jewish disbeliever in him.
However, with many house-holds in the parts of the animist and the Christian south, for every home to have a lawyer is for survival and more so for self preservation. The more noise one makes to confuse issues and theI pass you syndrome with money the higher the respect. Like the animal in the jungle, it is survival for the fittest. Aggressiveness and taking what does not belong to you if one can get away with it is a sign of bravado. The recourse to abuse court process to bribe judges and law enforcement agents to defraud is common because of the loop holes and corruption that favour the crooks. On the other hand civility and accommodation and respect for the right of your neighbour is a sign of weakness. It is not out of place to brand such a person as “mumu”.
Border disputes and communal clashes are endless. Neighbours invading neighbours and violent clashes that the norths for 30 years after independence were unheard off and gun dwells have been on the news in the dailies. So to have a lawyer or a judge to protect family or community interests are top priorities. These dynamics are the root causes of judicial problems bedeviling the nation. With elections, where clannish interests reigned high is the mother of court chicanery, abuse of court procedures, legal battles in a do-or-die manner. Remember, during OBJ, we had three Ibo Senate Presidents.
Recall the Uba and Ngige in Anambra state. In each, money will change hands where Ghana-must-go and the beginning of bribing Judges with Naira Billions or the equivalent in US Dollars. The bureau-de-change had brisk business with the Federation Accounts allocations of states. Cash meant for the development of states and for the payment of salaries and pensions were hijacked to confirm or otherwise, the validity of rigged elections of Governors, Senators, Federal House and State legislators. Inconsistent judgments by courts of similar jurisdictions or lacking the mandate for clannish or cash inducements on judges compromised their integrities.
A Judge is a person in a court who has the authourity to decide how criminals should be punished or to make legal decisions. The leader of a country is a super judge who is superior to even the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court in terms of authourity to decide also how criminals in his country including a judge should be punished. However, when some strange arguments are being advanced in favour of judges because they are who is who citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and by that are untouchable creatures. How untouchable the so-called custodian of law and order turning a monster be made to have an immunity for lawlessness!
Nigeria is one of the few countries that make a fun of ourselves to the extent that posterity will not forgive those who not only abuse public trust but make it legal. The result is socially engineered moral decay. Our children and those yet unborn will suffer the consequences. Lawlessness by any judge calls for brutal actions. Brutality is the answer to kill the head of a snake. Where the “unlearned” is punished for law breaking, the “learned” should get more than double for crimes. There should be no sympathy for such person at all.
Where is a spent force about to retire and die hoarding money in sewage or overhead tank taking the cash? The biggest indictment of our judges is the case of former Governor Ibori and co. Obviously, money and other primordial interests in the refusal to convict him to prison manifested. The British judge did not waste time nor was he sentimental that he was a Christian to send him to jail. He ruled that he was guilty of theft and even what was unearthed was a tip of the ice bag.
A small reflection note for our “learned” Muslim and Christian brothers of my age in the bench and bar should be reminded that they are sooner than later about to retire and eventually die should conclude this small piece. I should like to believe even for the younger one should serve as a food for thought. With respect to justice the Qur’an 4:135 says: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice as witness to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor Allah is better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lust (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily Allah is ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.
LEVITICUS 19V15-17 OF THE BIBLE; “Be honest and just when you make decisions in legal cases, do not show favoritism to the poor or fear the rich. Do not spread lies about any one, and when someone is on trial for his life, speak out if your testimony can help him. I am the LORD. Do not bear a grudge against anyone, but settle your differences with him, so that you will not commit a sin because of him.”
When jungle justice takes the centre stage in any society, no one is safe. Therefore, tackling corruption in the Judiciary and the legal system is a task that must be done and seen to be done without respect for any person that comwes into a collision course with justice and order.