Furore Over the Arrest of Judges

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GUEST COLUMNIST

BY SAIDU DANSADAU

There has been intense public reaction to the pre-dawn arrest of some judicial officers, including two justices of the Supreme Court, for alleged corrupt practices. Some have spoken up in support, other rabidly against the action of the Department of State Services (DSS) in arresting the Judges.

First is that corruption is a crime, and barring those whom the constitution grants immunity from prosecution, anyone can be investigated and prosecuted for corruption. Ghana investigated, arrested, sacked and prosecuted some 34 Judges not long ago. Ghanaians applauded their government, knowing that judicial corruption goes to the very root of the survival of the society. Judicial corruption is not an ordinary crime. In these men and women are vested the powers to interpret the laws which guide the society, in order to give balance to all the contending interests and persuasions that inhabit a society. It is a sacred mandate. They are the lords of the hallowed temples of justice, whom society has given the power to pronounce life or death, legitimately. This responsibility is grave. To wantonly violate it by inducement or for material gain, improperly obtained, is a grievous violence to the fibres of society.

How can the president be accused of dictatorship for obeying the law? If the problem is that it was the DSS who effected the arrests, then, that argument fails to countenance that judicial corruption is an internal security issue. It is obvious that those who bad-mouth the president on this issue of corruption are not interested in fixing Nigeria. Is it their argument that these judicial officers are not corrupt? Or is it the manner or time of the arrests, or is the problem the agency that effected the arrests? There is no denial that there is mind-boggling corruption in the judiciary. It is common knowledge. There is need to have the courage to clean the Augean stable. And it has to be a bold, ground-shaking action not amenable to the manipulations of those who are accused. Nigerian Judges and lawyers have developed the culture of taking advantage of ‘due process’ and technicalities to subvert the course of justice. The condemnation of DSS’ action by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, if what was attributed to him is true, is unfortunate. How can anybody that has an iota of fear of God support anybody on salary in whose house such humongous amounts of money were found?

In the words of one of the former Presidents of USA, G.W. Bush, “he who harbours a terrorist is a terrorist’. What Mr. Bush meant was that he would deal with supporters of terrorists in the manner he planned to deal with terrorists. It therefore follows: He who harbours the corrupt is corrupt.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s single-minded focus is commendable. My advice to him is to deal with collaborators and supporters of corrupt public functionaries in the manner he deals with the corrupt government officials.  As Hausa people say ‘Abokin barawo barawo ne’.

I appeal to Nigerians of all strata, to, in the name of God be useful members of the society in which they live. Growing up, one of the first lessons we were taught in the teacher training college was the aim of Education thus: ‘To develop a child mentally, physically, spiritually, morally and socially IN ORDER TO BE A USEFUL MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY IN WHICH HE LIVES’. This lesson should serve Nigerian elites well.  I urge you to understand this lesson very well. We ought to be useful to our country first before being useful ourselves, to our families, our tribes/ethnic groups etc. The first-line charge on any Nigerian is his own contribution to the socio-economic development of Nigeria. Anything short of this is a betrayal of our father land.

Our society has taken a trajectory of going down-hill. First Republic political leaders and civil servants were, in the main, honest, selfless, incorruptible and dedicated to the cause of the society. The decimal of duty for them was their contribution to the development of Nigeria. That is as it should be. I urge the Nigerian youth to take this lesson very serious. It is the path to salvaging Nigeria. Nigerians of my age and above are in the departure hall. The Nigeria we are leaving behind for you to inherit is not a cheery one. You should resolve to join hands to fix Nigeria. MAKE NIGERIA YOUR FIRST LINE CHARGE.

  • Mr. Dansadau is a former senator