As it is often said, no legitimate child deliberately sets his father’s house on fire. It is still inexplicable that those who for 16 years behaved as if they had no stakes in Nigeria are not remorseful. These men pillaged and plundered the land ‘materially and morally’ like colonial invaders. They shared our common patrimony through fraudulent privatisation and monetization policies. It made no difference to them that they were sharing what they did not build but what was built by visionary leaders. They introduced ‘political Sharia’; they unleashed Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram on Nigeria. They tamed Obasanjo who ended up squandering away with both hands, the goodwill of Nigerians and the international community he took into government in 1999. They hastened the death of ailing Yar’Adua. For about six years, they pushed naïve Jonathan around while shamelessly lying to Nigerians. The only decision Jonathan ever took as president was conceding defeat after losing the election without first consulting David Mark, Uche Secondus, Tony Anenih, Femi Fani-Kayode, the weeping Ifeanyi Ubah, errant Elder Orubebe, Pa Edwin Clark the President’s father and Olisa Metuh. Voted out of government by determined Nigerians, they still don’t think they owe Nigerians an apology.
Last week, those who threatened Pa Bisi Akande with sedition for criticizing Jonathan’s government forgot that the law is still in our statute books. Without remorse, they now again threaten to unleash Niger Delta militants on Nigeria because an election tribunal nullified an election described by local and international observers as ‘war’. According to Olisa Metuh and Wale Oladipo, “PDP is not willing to and will never surrender the mandate freely given to us by the people in states where we won in the last general election, neither are the people of those states willing to allow sectional invaders to exert influence on those to be in charge of their affairs”. That, after a court’s verdict, is a call for insurrection.
After a vicious attack on the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, they accused President Buhari without proof of ‘undue interferences’ in the activities of the judiciary using the Department of States Service (DSS). This they say, threaten the 16 years ‘gains of the judiciary’ without defining what constituted ‘gains of judiciary under PDP. Fortunately, Joseph Jibueze, a very resourceful reporter, in a piece titled ‘How sabotage, blackmail, undue delays are killing the Judiciary’ listed some of the legacies of the judiciary between 1999-and 2014 to fill the gap. They include such cases as those of Ayo Fayose whose trial for alleged financial misappropriation as a former governor had dragged on for eight years before winning a controversial election in 2014 even while facing eligibility case in court. In a bid to stop the case from being heard, Fayose unleashed thugs on judges, lawyers, and court officials. According to Justice Daramola, the Ekiti State Chief Judge: “The thugs invaded my court…tore the Record Books, beat the court officials…descended on Hon. Justice J. A. Adeyeye, the presiding Judge in Court No. 3, beat and dragged him on the ground”. After inauguration, Abuja kept its peace while Fayose with the help of thugs chased out 19 opposition lawmakers out of town and ruled like a garrison commander with seven PDP legislators.
Another ‘gain’ of the judiciary Metuh probably had in mind was the Halliburton case. While the company officials indicted for bribing Nigerian officials were jailed after conviction in the US, Nigerians indicted for receiving the bribes walked away free. Although they did not mention it, but one can help PDP add as parts of ‘gains’ of the judiciary the Ibori case. Accused of stealing US$250million from the public purse, he pleaded to 10 counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud, and was sentenced to 13 years on April 17, 2012, by the Southwark Crown Court in London .That was after the 171-count charge of money laundering, fraud and corruption filed against Ibori at the Federal High Court, Kaduna was discontinued in his favour by the Court of Appeal that held ‘his trial in Kaduna was illegal as the alleged crime was committed in Delta’ and was discharged and acquitted by Justice Marcel Awokulehin, when he was eventually arraigned in Asaba.
While the trial of Erastus Akingbola, former owner of Intercontinental Bank has dragged on for five years due to conspiracy of judges and SANs, a civil suit instituted against him in a British court by Access Bank Plc has been disposed of by ‘a London, court which ordered Akingbola to pay the bank £654million allegedly diverted from the bank illegally’ in August 2012. Also listed as a possible ‘gain’ was the case of Bukola Saraki v. Inspector-General of Police (Unreported Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/231/2012), where Saraki sought to restrain the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force from investigating an allegation of N9 billion fraud leveled against him. After reporting for investigation, Saraki filed a fresh suit seeking to stop the police from prosecuting him. He got the relief. The case of ex-Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State is similar. In March 2007, he secured a Federal High Court injunction restraining the EFCC from investigating his tenure. Justice Ibrahim Buba gave an order that the EFCC had no power to “in any manner howsoever, investigate the account or financial affairs of a state government.”
In the Mohammed Abacha case numbered SC.40/2006 Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), simply ordered the withdrawal of the N446.3billion theft charge instituted against him to pave the way for him to contest as PDP governorship candidate for Kano.
Again, we cannot blame Metuh and his PDP colleagues for describing all the above baleful legacies as ‘gains’. The judiciary has not changed much over the years. Because of the dishonesty and greed of its leading lights before independence, it backed the colonial masters’ grabbing of Lagos choice lands hiding under the treaty of cession of 1861 until Herbert Macaulay’s appeal on behalf of Chief Oluwa and the Eleko’s to the British Judicial Council in London was upheld in 1913. For the same reasons, S. L. Akintola’s Supreme Court 1962 victory was overturned by the British judicial council which ruled he was constitutionally removed.
In 1966, because of dishonesty and greed, senior members of the judiciary advised Ironsi to take over the reins of power instead of swearing in Zanna Bukar Dipcharima, the next most senior minister as acting Prime Minister as provided for in our constitution. Similarly driven by nothing but dishonesty and greed, senior members of the judiciary, who knew the implication of turning a heterogeneous society from a federal to a unitary state drafted for Ironsi Decree 34 of 1966 that sparked off rioting by ABU students that inexorably led to the mindless killing of innocent Nigerians. For the same reasons, leading lights of the judiciary helped Babangida with his illegal interim decree after annulling the most credible election in our nation’s history.
But how do we tame the greedy and dishonest senior members of our judiciary? I think there is something to learn from Metuh’s lamentation over the modest achievement of the DSS in the last few months following the removal of PDP infiltrators. It only shows that devoid of political interference, the DSS has the capacity to cage senior members of the judiciary who have turned it to cash and carry enterprise, turned politics to a noble profession that places emphasis on service to a game of brigands, and provider of legal cover to criminals in government houses.