The West and Double Standards 

The Advocate By Onikepo Braithwaite

The Advocate By Onikepo Braithwaite

The Advocate

By Onikepo Braithwaite

Congratulations Lagos State Government 

Before I go into the word for today, I must congratulate the Lagos State Government (LSG) on the inauguration of its Red Rail Line in addition to the Blue one. Coupled with the water transportation system and a hopefully better road transportation network, it shows that Lagos State‘s transportation policy, the Metroline aspect, conceived during the tenure of Alhaji Lateef Jakande in the 1980s, is geared towards some sort of intermodal system, to the extent that they are trying to achieve different modes of transportation from one point to another. So, a passenger who lives in the Mile 2 area and works on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi has the option of making the journey by road, or can travel on the Blue Line from Mile 2 to Marina, take the ferry from Marina to Falomo, and either take a minibus or walk to Awolowo Road, depending on how far down the work place is. This will definitely ease road traffic, as well as reduce the wear and tear on our roads. Kudos LSG! We want to see more of these type of policies that are beneficial to the people, especially if they implemented at a reasonable cost and are affordable and reliable for the users.

President Donald Trump’s Issues

I was reading a forward on social media, concerning some of former President Donald Trump’s wrongdoings, like inflating his net worth by about $2 billion to enable him secure benignant credit facilities (loans) et al, and of course, the unforgettable, unprecedented issue of him trying to overturn the 2020 election, particularly the January 6, 2021 ‘coup’ attempt at Capitol Hill, following his loss of the election. 

The US Supreme Court will, in April, hear arguments in respect of Donald Trump’s Presidential  immunity from criminal prosecution claim, for charges bordering on his plot to overturn the 2020 election. While the American Constitution does not confer immunity from indictment or criminal prosecution on a sitting US President, the Department of Justice (DOJ) which controls all Federal Prosecutors, confers some temporary immunity on a President while in office. See the case of Richard Nixon v A. Ernest Fitzgerald 457 U.S.731 (1982) which only held that the American President is entitled to absolute immunity from liability for damages based on his official acts. 

The 1973 (Nixon) & 2000 (Clinton) Memoranda of the DOJ are pertinent here; in both OLC (Office of the Legal Counsel) Memoranda, the DOJ concluded that all Federal Civil Officers except the US President, are subject to indictment and criminal prosecution during their tenure in office. While some argue that the OLCs were designed to somehow protect Presidents Nixon and Clinton when they got into trouble, the DOJ was of the view that such indictment or criminal prosecution would not allow the Executive to concentrate on constitutional functions. This DOJ’s view happened to be echoed here in Nigeria, in the decision in Hassan v Aliyu & Ors (2010) LPELR-1357(SC) per Olufunlola Oyelola Adekeye, JSC in examining the purpose of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended in 2023)(the Constitution) which, on the contrary, grants immunity from civil and criminal proceedings to the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor. See the cases of Global Excellence Communications Ltd & Ors v Duke (2007) LPELR-1323(SC) per Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, JSC (later CJN) & Tinubu v IMB Securities Plc (2001) LPELR-3248(SC) per Adolphus Godwin Karibi-Whyte, JSC. In Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi v INEC & Ors (2008) LPELR-446(SC) per George Adesola Oguntade, JSC, the Apex Court went further to state that Section 308 of the Constitution is designed to protect the dignity of the office. 

Unlike Nigeria, it appears that the unique immunity that is granted to the US President while in office, does not extend to the Vice President and Governors. In fact, here in Nigeria, immunity from criminal prosecution seems to extend to the President beyond his tenure in office, because while some Governors have faced prosecution and been jailed following their departure from office, no former President has ever been held accountable for anything after leaving office. It seems that, this is the kind of break that President Trump and his Lawyers may be hoping for! Unfortunately, even if an American President had immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts, obviously the inflation of one’s net worth to secure personal loans long before he assumed the US Presidency, can certainly not be categorised as an official act of a President. 

I align myself with the unanimous decision of the US Court of Appeal of the District of Columbia, that Donald Trump can face criminal prosecution for his conduct following the 2020 election. His “Incitement of Insurrection” with his speech of January 6, 2021 which urged his supporters to “fight like hell” against the election, which he falsely claimed and communicated to them had been stolen from them, again, can definitely also not be categorised as an official act. See Section 41 of the Criminal Code Act 1990 (CCA) on treasonable felony, which carries a punishment of life imprisonment upon conviction. I certainly don’t buy the argument that Donald Trump’s aforementioned actions, can be referred to as official acts which can enjoy criminal immunity after office; and I believe that now that he is out of office, he can be criminally prosecuted. 

Hypocrisy & Double Standards

What I however find hypocritical, is how developed countries, many a time, adopt a condescending posture against African nations, ranging from regularly finding fault in our leaders when their leaders may not be any better, to nursing veiled criticisms of some of our ways and culture. What makes Donald Trump any different from some of our corrupt African leaders, with the lies he’s alleged to have told about his finances, in order to gain advantages? What makes Donald Trump different from the soldiers in West Africa who have overthrown their civilian governments in the last few years, with his own January 6, 2021 Capitol Hill fiasco in which five people died? Only that his attempt was unsuccessful? Is the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu not facing corruption charges? 

I saw on the news that Ghana’s Legislature recently passed its anti-LGBT Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill, and it is now waiting for President Akufo-Addo’s assent. While in Ghana, the Criminal Code 1960 criminalised ‘unnatural carnal knowledge’, providing for a punishment of 3 years imprisonment upon conviction for men that engaged in same sex activities, in Nigeria, “having carnal knowledge against the order of nature” has always been an offence under the CCA, punishable with 14 years imprisonment. See for example, Section 214 & 217 of the CCA. The Nigerian Legislature then went further by enacting the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013 (SSMPA). Merely identifying as LGBT is now an offence in Ghana, and the punishment under the new law has been increased to 5 years imprisonment upon conviction. 

The international community and human rights groups like Amnesty International, have decried these recent African laws as being a violation of fundamental human rights, like that of freedom of thought and association. See Sections 38(1) & 40 of the Constitution. Countries like USA have also attempted to use ‘neo colonialist’ tactics to force African States to accept same sex relationships, by making the acceptance of them one of the conditionalities attached to giving funds. 

It is however surprising, that these same international communities and human rights activists do not think it is a violation of the human rights of a man who desires to have multiple wives, to not permit polygamous marriages in their countries. Polygamy, and not same sex relationships, have always been part and parcel of the African culture, even though one cannot deny the existence of same sex relationships in Africa. In the UK, for instance, the ‘Nikah’ (Islamic Marriage) is not recognised as a legal marriage, and couples are seen as cohabiting unless their Nikah is registered as a civil marriage; only one civil marriage can be registered at a time. 


My point? Should foreign countries be able to leave their countries to come and impose  their cultures on us in our countries, while they do not accept ours? Should western countries be allowed to judge us harshly and denounce us, while they do the same things as us? Is this not a double standard? 

The West African military coup plotters have been roundly condemned by the international community for truncating democracy in their countries, yet, Donald Trump who attempted a similar thing is the front runner of the Republican Party in the upcoming Presidential election! Have we forgotten former US President George W. Bush who invaded Iraq in 2003, based on inaccurate/false information that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, despite the fact that the UN Inspectors had found nothing like that there? Bush and his administration, suffered absolutely no consequences for their actions, though the deaths in that war may surpass the number of deaths that occurred during the rule of Liberian Dictator Charles Taylor, who is presently serving a 50 year sentence at HM Prison Frankland, UK. While the October 7, 2023 Hamas attack on Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis is condemnable, the Israeli retaliation of killing possibly over 30,000 Palestinians and counting, is even more condemnable. It is worse than killing an ant with a sledgehammer. If an African Leader did a fraction of what Benjamin Netanyahu has done in these attacks on Gaza, he would be tried for war crimes/crimes against humanity/genocide, found guilty and probably jailed for life! Surely, should what is good for the goose, not also be good for the gander?  

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