Impunity Has Taken over Nigeria, Soyinka Cries Out

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Wole Soyinka

Segun James

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday expressed concern on how impunity has taken over the country.

In a statement entitled: ‘Trivialise Corruption, Neutralise Justice,’ he took a swipe at some members of the judiciary and blamed politicians for the rate of impunity.

“The reign of impunity will prevail as long as the legal community continues to betray its calling, its oath of office, even its rites of professional collegiality and its responsibility to the rest of us,” Soyinka said.

He added, “It is disappointing that even under a government that promised to dust up the files of political murders and end that reign of homicidal impunity, the Association has not thought fit to demand from the Buhari government its findings.”

According to the Nobel Laureate, impunity covers all crimes including material corruption and any social or governance institution which fails to stem the tide of criminality flings open the channels of impunity.

He accused President Muhammadu Buhari of applying what he described as “hands-off approach” to the menace of killings by herdsmen in parts of the country.

Soyinka further criticised some members of the judiciary for their roles in recent events in the country, particularly the trial of Justice Walter Onnoghen.

He also cautioned Nigerians to be on red alert as such happenings have become synonymous with election periods in the country.

The Nobel Laureate, however, lauded a group of lawyers he referred to as the reformist council who have taken it upon themselves to clear the alleged rot in the judiciary.

“It is heartening news that some 20 concerned lawyers have come together to undertake the mission of cleaning up the Aegean stables that seem to pass today for the Nigerian judiciary. Some of us do need an institution to which we can look up, of which we should even live in awe. Some find that in religious institutions, others in traditional fixtures, some even in family and so on. All agree that the order of justice is a pre-eminent candidate for collective regard and even self-regulation. No matter, we all know that, without justice, society unravels at the seams, and its citizens resort to self-help,” he explained.

“I feel especially exercised by recent happenings within that body currently from a dominant perspective: it has become increasingly fashionable to sneer at any anti-corruption pre-occupation. No, no one actually ever goes so far as to condone corruption. Perish the thought! Gradually, however, the nation’s psyche is being both subtly and brazenly returned to accept not simply corruption as the norm of social relationships, but its heightened product, impunity, as a national emblem. The justification? The machinery that was launched against corruption with such fanfare, it is claimed, has run aground”.

Soyinka alleged that the current anti-corruption war is characterised by selectivity, insincerity, non-seriousness and cynical distraction.

“Selectivity has been cited as proof. Insincerity, non-seriousness, cynical distraction, are routine assessments of the current governmental campaign,” he said.

“Not surprising then, that it was only a matter of time before the flagbearer of one of the ‘parties to beat’ came out openly to dismiss the punitive option, delivering the promise of amnesty as one of the corner-stones of his plans for the nation. It was a well-calculated gambit. That candidate, an astute politician with his nose to the ground, found that ground primed, ready and conducive.

Soon, this will be topped by some rivalling knight in shining armour from rivalling parties who promise prosecution and prison sentence for anyone who bad-mouths corruption – of course, always with a caveat – until all the ills that infest society have been completely eradicated – guinea-worm, river blindness, soil erosion, oil pollution, rape, and kidnapping incest, not forgetting the transformation of the entire national infrastructure and the full elimination of the last vestiges of Boko Haram, killer herdsmen, Lassa bearing rodents and potholes on the road”.