Judges Arrest: Gestapo Gimmick Not Change, By Ken Tadaferua

The gestapo style arrest of judges is nothing but a gimmick, a diversionary ploy that does not stop budget padding, legislators rogue pay, multiples of presidential luxury jets, lack of water, basic health facilities, power, food, jobs etc. We have been fooled for too long. This is one reason why I applaud the president of the Nigeria Bar Association’s prompt response to the arrest of the judges. That is how pressure groups must operate.

To be corrupt is to negate integrity, values and the law. Some folks limit the definition of corruption to stealing public funds. But it is beyond money. It is that which devalues the values, mores and laws of the community. To use one form of corruption to fight another kind of corruption does not reduce corruption. Rather both forms of corruption worsen depravity in the society, each growing into destructive monsters.

If a man is suspected of taking bribe (one form of corruption) and a security officer breaks into the suspect’s house at night with impunity (another form of corruption) to arrest him, the two forms of corruption negate the law and if not nipped in the bud, will mushroom with dire consequences for the society.

Taking bribe is breaking the law and leads to depriving society of fair and just processes or judgement. Worse, it may degenerate into the norm, therefore polluting our values, integrity and fairness. Breaking into a citizen’s home by breaking the door and effecting arrest in the dead of night is impunity and total disregard of the law, as well as the citizen’s fundamental human rights. It is worse when that individual is a senior citizen and a respected judge of the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. The action is unnecessarily violent, wicked and designed to promote fear. It is unlawful.

It is a corruption of due process and simple decency capable of breeding callous lawlessness among security officers, as this nation had witnessed in great horror and trepidation in the past, such as a certain Rogers shooting and killing suspected critics of government or the DSS subjecting innocent citizens to horrific tortures. The excesses of the Buhari government in 1984/85 comes readily to mind. That is corruption of the legal process and corruption of respect for decent treatment of citizens and their human rights. Both corrupt practices are wrong. One cannot cancel out the other. Instead both compound the corruption of society.

Therefore the recently reported State Security Service (SSS) Gestapo and commando style attack, with guns and hammers at night, on the homes of senior judges, even of the Supreme Court, is absolutely a corruption of the law and abuse of the judges’ human rights, including the right to decent treatment. This is more so as the judges have not yet been pronounced criminals by a competent court of law. Rather they are alleged to have taken bribes to pervert judgement.

On mere allegations, the respected judges were subjected to terror and fear in their homes. Probably thinking that they were under attack by vicious armed robbers or kidnappers, the poor old men would have been shocked to learn that the fierce looking and gun wielding men who bundled them away in the night from their homes before terror-stricken wives and children were security agents of government. If any of those old men had died of heart attack arising from the shock of armed men invading his home in the dead of night, the report would probably have read that he was resisting arrest.

I should like to know why the arrests were planned that way. Where the judges closet terrorists of the ISIS group who had to be taken by surprise before they set bombs off to kill innocent citizens? I shudder to even contemplate this possibility. Or could it be that the judges had to be caught red handed with looted billions before the monies were moved from their homes? If so, why were operatives not used to watch and monitor the homes until arrests were affected in accord with the law and decency?

To argue that in the name of fighting corruption, it is right to inflict another dangerous corruption on citizens is to vent ignorance of our long history of terror under heads of state who employed violence, fear and impunity to subjugate the country to their dictatorial whims and caprices.

So far, no one has heard from the judges. It has been a one way communication with the DSS telling the story of monies found in the homes of these judges and tales of bribery. All the monies listed will not buy one of the 87 luxury properties on the exclusive districts of Abuja said to have been recently released by the EFCC to Timipre Sylva, a former governor of Bayelsa State accused five years ago of stealing billions of dollars belonging to the State. The courts not only threw out the EFCC case against him for incompetence, all the said properties have been returned to him. By the way, Sylva is now a chieftain of APC, the ruling party.

As I was saying, none of the judges have spoken. None has been given opportunity to give any form of defence. Yet many self-righteous Nigerians have already condemned them as corrupt, while praising the SSS approach and by extension, this government’s impunity, abuse and corruption of the law. To argue that in the name of fighting corruption, it is right to inflict another dangerous corruption on citizens is to vent ignorance of our long history of terror under heads of state who employed violence, fear and impunity to subjugate the country to their dictatorial whims and caprices.

It is the usual decoy to win legitimacy or support when they come into power by coups or when they have no solutions to the political and economic crises they foster on the country. Nigerians are generally suckers for anything anti-corruption, even though the more vociferous ones are neck deep in corruption.

Nigerians love the propaganda and slogans of an anti-corruption war. Every government since the 1960s has inundated Nigerians with anti-corruption slogans garnished with a rash of well publicised elite arrests. But every one of the governments turns out worse in corruption than the one before it.

The problem with Nigerians, particularly educated ones, is this strange craving for some kind of strong-man dictator with magical powers to deal with corruption and the many challenges of the country.

Sadly it is a pipe dream that will never materialise. Certainly not with any of the megalomaniac ex-generals who have ruled Nigeria directly and indirectly up until today from 1967. None of them will ever change the superstructure of corruption on which Nigeria has been run for decades. They will create war against indiscipline and war against corruption policies. They will arrest and jail some elites. But what they will never do is to change the sociopolitical and economic superstructure that breeds grand larceny, massive corruption and economic dislocation.

Our history has proven again and again and again that that is a pipe dream. The only true change in Nigeria can only come from the people. Until that happens, the effete groaning will continue to no end. If you are observant, you would have noticed that over the decades, the ex-generals systematically decimated or corrupted all pressure groups or organisations in the country.

Nigeria runs a unitary system of government masquerading as a federation. The political centre holds the economic and political sinews of the country in a stranglehold (check out the constitution). The political centre plays Santa Claus, sharing money from that cesspool of corruption called federation account every month. Free money to presidents, ministers, legislators, governors, LG chairmen to share and loot as they desire. Creativity, vision and real sector development are dead and replaced with free, unearned oil revenues shared monthly for over four decades now.

How else could the late General Abacha and all our rogue heads of state and their cronies steal this nation blind if not for easy access to the national revenue. Therefore any head of state who comes trumpeting change and war against corruption but retains the corrupt superstructures is only making a big fool of Nigerians. The Central Bank remains the private purse of the powers that be.

So carrying big guns and hammers to break into homes of judges to arrest them on allegation of bribe taking is not only berserk behaviour, it is vicious clowning.

But even more worrisome is the lazy attitude of the Nigerian intelligentsia to seeking change in their country. They lounge in their comfort zones, expecting some genie to rise and arrest all corrupt people, jail them and change the country for the better for them. That won’t happen.

Our history has proven again and again and again that that is a pipe dream. The only true change in Nigeria can only come from the people. Until that happens, the effete groaning will continue to no end. If you are observant, you would have noticed that over the decades, the ex-generals systematically decimated or corrupted all pressure groups or organisations in the country.

Where are the vibrant student unions, market women unions, labour unions, university lecturers unions, trade unions, village or town meetings and even street associations that pressured local governments, state governments and the federal government in the 60s and 70s? All are either dead or contaminated with their leaders hustling for jobs and contracts in Abuja. But in these groups and associations and unions lie real hope for Nigeria.

Nigerian young men and intelligentsia must urgently begin to organise citizens into pressure groups and organisations from streets to schools, from villages to towns, from friends to professional colleagues, from tradesmen to labour unions. It will not be a simple task but it is a task that must be done. It will take time but it will mature into vibrancy over time.

We need to ORGANISE our people. We need dynamic pressure groups to challenge government and to change Nigeria for the better. The arrests of the judges is just another Alawada Kerikeri show. It changes nothing. Only the people can change the country.

Why can’t we mobilise thousands of our people to march or take judicial steps to stop our poverty, lack of water, power, hospitals, roads. Why can’t the men in a local government area say enough to a thieving local government chairman or governor or president. Their thugs cannot kill everybody. Their guns cannot kill everybody. Haven’t we suffered enough? Isn’t it time to take our lives into our hands and decide our fate? In 1789, the French people did it. In 1963, black Americans marched on Washington to demand their rights. And change came.

History is replete with lessons of a people who successfully organised to say: Enough. Nigerians are too docile. We keep expecting a member of the dubious cabal ruling and ruining us for decades to effect change while we sit on our backs, drinking beer, clubbing, and writing on social media. It is time to take personal responsibility. There is something effete and unmanly to see a 20, 30, 40, 50 years old man arguing agitatedly about the Magic a 73 year old man will perform or excitedly bellyaching about Wailers and Vuvuzelas in a bastardised polity where the young men are clucking like old mother hens.

Get up man. Rise up. The key word is ORGANISE. Organise one pressure group today, no matter how small and begin to grow it. Let’s stand up for our rights, to change the rotten and corrupt superstructure and let’s get leaders to deliver on their promises or better still take power from the present crop of rogue leaders.

The gestapo style arrest of judges is nothing but a gimmick, a diversionary ploy that does not stop budget padding, legislators rogue pay, multiples of presidential luxury jets, lack of water, basic health facilities, power, food, jobs etc. We have been fooled for too long. This is one reason why I applaud the president of the Nigeria Bar Association’s prompt response to the arrest of the judges. That is how pressure groups must operate. Our leaders must know that our people can stop their excesses. When the people sneeze, the leaders must catch cold. Our leaders have no fear, no respect and no regard for the people because the people have never sneezed as an organised whole. When that happens, Nigeria will change for the better.

We need to ORGANISE our people. We need dynamic pressure groups to challenge government and to change Nigeria for the better. The arrests of the judges is just another Alawada Kerikeri show. It changes nothing. Only the people can change the country.

Ken Tadaferua is a media and marketing communications consultant. Twitter: @ktadaferua

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