Of love, lust and justice By Gbenga Omotosho

Of love, lust and justice

LET’S forget about politics and politicians – just for a while. Let’s take our minds off the crashing oil prices and the battered Naira, the dizzying figures of the cash laid at the foot of the demon of corruption and the row sparked by President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments, a harmless action that has been hijacked by ethnic warriors to feather their nest. Let’s turn our gaze off Sambisa to other forests that are as dreadful as that evil redoubt of the redoubtable Boko Haram terrorists. Just for a while.

I don’t expect you to hail me for raising the alarm: sexual crimes are on the rise. We all know this. What is unclear is: how many of us are worried? The stories range from those of deranged minds in mindless assault on minors, rape and sexual peccadilloes of celebrities. All in August.

I tried my all to ignore them all, but the subject kept coming up like the phoenix. How do we, in a family newspaper such as ours, deal with salacious matters, especially those bordering on concupiscence, eroticism and, in some cases, sheer rumpy pumpy, without offending the reader’s sensibility? How?

Many homes have been broken since the shocking unveiling of the Ashley Madison adultery website. Some women, unable to stand the reality that their husbands could philander with other women, quit their marriages, hacked to marital death by those merciless hackers. There have been reports of suicide and company chiefs stepping down.

The revelations have been earth-shaking. Now, Alabama has been described as the adultery capital of the United States after it was found to have the highest levels of credit card movements on the extra-marital cheating website among the 50 states. In the United Kingdom, Cambridge –yes, Cambridge, the university city –  has the highest number of potential cheats. One in 20 of its adults, including  many academic giants – men and women – are registered on the website.

What is the relationship between learning and technology for which Cambridge, home of a world famous university, is known and extra-marital indiscretions? I am sure researchers will soon let us into this amazing secret.

In South Africa, the police announced that a case of assault had been opened against a grandson of the late statesman, Dr Nelson Mandela. The young man had earlier been accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. He was allowed home on a R7,000 bail by a Johannesburg magistrate. He spent a week in custody.

A relation of the suspect denied rape. He said it was all consensual and that the girl was of age. Do rape victims always get justice? Hardly. Any doubt is often resolved in the favour of the accused. The complainant is subjected to so much questioning that she would regret ever bringing up the matter. The burden of proof is often so heavy that cases get abandoned. The result is that many victims of rape would rather suffer in silence, sink into depression and, in some cases, take their own lives.

The other day at the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, a female police officer and her lover, apparently seeking a way out of the regimental camp life of rigorous exercises, parades and examinations, went inside a parked car and carried on as if they were home in the bedroom. A senior officer on routine checks, a flash lamp in his hand, found a stationery car moving rhythmically. Curious, he decided to check. And what a spectacle. An eyeful. He ordered  the show stopped and subjected the panting actors to some grilling. Unable to take it anymore, the man, who claimed to be a police officer, fled the scene. His companion lost a rank for indecent conduct  unbecoming of an officer.

Is that fair? Well, it is neither here nor there. I waited for our army of women rights activists and Beijing champions to take up the matter and fight for the poor woman’s rank to be restored but they did not seem to be interested.

When does an unrestrained lustful desire become a crime? Is such an act done in the night in a car by two consenting adults and away from public glare an affront to public sensibility and decency? Isn’t this why our people say bodi no be wood? Is the police chief’s action not a brazen assault on the female police officer’s copulative rights and privileges? I really don’t know. Where are our legal experts?

In Anambra State, women of easy virtue went on the rampage, razing a market because the brothels in which they practise their trade in Amansea, Awka North Local Government, were demolished by the Urban Development Board, which claimed that the place was a haven for criminals. That was on August 14.

It has been suggested by some analysts that instead of taking the law into their hands, these women should have gone to court to demand damages. The question, however, remains: in what capacity? Do they have an association? What will they tell the judge? Isn’t there a difference between human rights and the liberty to practise an illegal trade? Can they ever get justice?

Also in August, a University of Lagos (UNILAG) teacher was accused of raping an admission seeker. The university disowned the randy teacher who reportedly denied the accusation. The matter, I learnt, is still being investigated.

Of all these cases, none has been as sensational as that of Mrs Emily Richard-Obire, who petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to complain that Justice Olamide Oloyede of the Osun State Judiciary – remember her? Her Lordship was the one who petitioned the  Assembly to impeach Governor Rauf Aregbesola  –  had snatched her husband. An Ashley Madisonian stuff, the story attracted a flood of comments.

How? Her husband and Justice Olojede were co-habiting, she alleged and urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to issue a perpetual injunction restraining Justice Oloyede, her agents, privies, servants and others from snatching her husband.

Apparently realising the urgency of the matter, Chief Justice Mahmoud Mohammed asked Her Lordship to defend her integrity in 14 days. A source said she did with dispatch. Did Her Lordship deny all the concubinary exploits ascribed to her by the petitioner?

I do not know yet how this matter will be settled. As I said, it drew an avalanche of comments and an army of emergency experts – family lawyers, psychologists, psychoanalysts, physiologists and all manner of charlatans who have lunched into exotic theories on the matter of Her Lordship’s yet unproven concubinary adventure.

They have been asking: When does co-habitation become snatching? Can there be snatching without violence? Any sign of violence in this instance? Why will a  man leave his family to warm a strange woman’s bed? What is the attraction? Is it normal? What is the other woman doing better – culinary adventurism? Copulative virtuosity? Erotomania? Mere romance?

Said Mrs Richard-Obire, a mother of four: “I have evidence that she has been addressing my husband as ‘my husband’ and my husband has been addressing her as ‘my beautiful wife’.”

It is incredible how this matter of co-habitation and all the corollary of such actions has been blown out of proportion, leaping straight out of the inner recesses of a home somewhere in a city to the streets where some strange rights activists have seized upon it as a weapon to fight their battle against Aregbesola – all because workers are owed salaries.

A hitherto unknown Civil Societies (sic) Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State joined the fray, nestling like a dutiful coach in Justice Oloyede’s corner. It suggested that the NJC was usurping the functions of a magistrate’s court by entertaining Mrs Richard-Obire’s petition. Her husband, said the coalition, is free to fall in bed –sorry, a slip there – in love with whomsoever he chooses. In fact, the fellows went on, the man had filed for divorce. The activists added other details, which I would rather leave out here, again because this is a family newspaper.

The emergency experts, aforementioned, would also not rest. They keep probing.  When does fantasy end, giving way to adultery? Is co-habitation adultery? What proof is Mrs Richard- Obire going to present – pictures of late night inner-room hot kisses or just a pat on the buttocks in the kitchen? Or the gentle touch on the chin? Does she have a video/audio evidence? Has she been involved in some voyeurism?

A little bird tells me this story is just unfolding, waiting to blossom in typical kiss-and-tell manner. For instance, we are yet to hear from Mr Obire, the man at the centre of all this. What kind of man is he? Seductive? Quiet? Active? Handsome?  Will the NJC summon him? Will he be asked to choose either of the two women? If so, who will he like to go with?

Whichever way the NJC resolves this delicate matter, which those who know nothing about law and its practice said should have been left for a magistrate, our jurisprudence would have been richly enriched at the end of the day.  It may well turn out that indeed, not only justice is blind, love also shares that attribute; it is blind.

NATION