It appears the Supreme Court has stretched the wig meant for its head to cover its eyes and ears such that it no longer sees what
Nigerians are seeing and cannot hear what the generality of Nigerians are hearing. It has by its recent conduct made itself the fabled Ostrich that covers its head in the sand while its huge body is all bare for the public to see. And as they say in my language ‘oku ti won sin; ese re wa ni’ta’, a body supposedly buried has all its legs exposed to public glare!
It does not appear that the Nigerian Supreme Court is bothered by the image it may be wittingly or unwittingly presenting to the Nigerian public which under normal circumstances regards it as the ultimate in the dispensation of justice and equity. It does not appear also to be bothered if its actions are suspected to be tainted by words that may not be palatable to the ears of readers of published materials.
For quite a long time Nigerians have been clamouring for a divine end to the humongous corruption that has perennially crippled the land. Nigerians wanted an end to corruption in public life, corruption in political and electoral matters, corruption in government, and corruption in the dispensation of justice. Nigerians were simply tired of the huge amount of public money that gets missing, or misappropriated or outrightly stolen by people who have access to their common patrimony. Bribery is one plague that has seized the jugular of the fabric of society that every Nigerian fervently prays to God to remove from their daily life.
The mood of the country before the general elections last year was generally against electoral malpractices. Nigerians felt that they had suffered a lot in the recent past, a period spanning a decade and a half that they determined to give themselves fair, free and credible elections where their votes would count and loss of lives brought to the barest minimum.
It was in the reflection of that national mood that the then President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan went public with a bold statement that his political ambition did not merit the blood of any Nigerian. He was so categorical in his pronouncement that Nigerians should refrain from shedding human blood in their frenzied bid to win political victory. The era of maiming and killing innocent people to actualise political ambition was meant to be over and done with.
Nigerians therefore expected that whoever went contrary to the public declaration made by former President Jonathan should be considered an enemy of the people and should not be patted on the back by anybody or any institution. In the same vein, nobody who watered his electoral ‘victory’ with human blood should be allowed to keep his or her loot. This was and still is the expectation of Nigerians.
In fairness to the polity, the warning given by Jonathan was largely heeded except in some pockets that had been notoriously bred with the lucre of thuggery and brutishness.
It is against this backdrop that Nigerians are calling into question the way and manner the Supreme Court appears to be conducting its affairs. Nigerians generally do not believe that some of the recent judgments dished out by the apex court reflect what the public knew about the elections that prompted the trials that sought final determination by the Supreme Court.
We know that the law is an ass. But beyond that cliché is the belief that lawyers do not have to be asses, and more so, people on the bench should not be asses. The tragedy though is that much as people expect the preachment on the pulpit to change human behaviour, experience of life has shown that the Church or Mosque does not change the character of the person that sleeps in the holy places. As we say in popular parlance, a person may pass through the university without allowing the university to pass through him.
A judge, a doctor, a pastor or bishop, an Imam or a Babalawo is first and foremost a human person. And he or she is subject to all the whims and caprices of every human person. Judges take bribes. Doctors, lawyers, the police and all those who are privileged to be in position of authority do take bribes and are susceptible to corruption. But when a national mood cries for a change in orientation and ethics, any institution suspected to be not in sync with popular expectation is usually put on trial.
Nigerians have started seriously lamenting the absence of great Supreme Court judges of yore; the Justices Eshos, Oputas, Bellos, Karibi Whites and other greats whose exploits on the Supreme Bench were lauded and applauded by the people.
The Supreme Court should not misdirect itself by assuming that its supremacy is above the will of the people. Or worse still, to assume that it is superior to the unsparing swords of God.
History is replete with stories of judges being chased out of court rooms, judges being stoned to death during popular uprisings, and judges being jailed when God appoints new rulers to judge judges.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria must place its ears close to the ground. It must adjust its wig and ensure that it [the wig] does neither close its eyes nor its ears.
Respectable Professor Itse Sagay has spoken. Ordinary Nigerians have also spoken. Currency chewing moguls, puff-puff cheeks and stiff necks are rejoicing and celebrating. All is well and good.
Those who know what is right and good; but choose to do what is wrong and bad, can only enjoy ephemeral, limited and tainted glory. Those who should know the difference between judgment and justice but instead require to be sent back to secondary school to learn basic English would only have themselves to blame on the day of reckoning.
The Supreme Court of any land cannot afford to run against the current. The Supreme Court of any land cannot afford to dash the genuine hopes and genuine aspirations of its people. The Supreme Court is the last hope of the people, and it is supposed to be the most respected organ of the judicial system.
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