I could not have allowed sleeping dogs lie just like that, not even would I have let go of this issue however it laid doggo, that one would not have heard its slithering escape.
It came along rushing advances that many a people could not have suffered pains of allowing it go by without giving it a version or two of the incident, and the rippling goose pimples effect it’s having on the nation is something we cannot take away too.
We just have to exhaustively if possible talk about it more often till the right thing is done.
My thoughts about the action of the Department of State Security’s arrest of certain judges is somewhat aptly timed. Being a foremost championer of the school of thought that persons who occupy certain sensitive public positions must exercise their functions with the mind set of a public trust, I still consider my one week after thought of the issue still timeous enough to take it on from a very thin but, realistic perspective and script same to parchment.
If judicial officers are still worth being treated as sacred cows even amidst the desecration of office, of what essence is one then being treated or termed sacred when the cow itself is dirty or has been made to be?
It is a trite maxim in the Law of Equity that equity aids the vigilant and not the indolent, and it is expressed in the latin maxim; “vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt.” Going by this maxim, can one then safely posit that the National Judicial Council who is empowered by law to sanitize the Judiciary of any incorrigible elements and recommend same to the President for dismissal, and since its establishment in 2000 till now has dismissed only 18 judges of the 1808 cases of judicial misconduct brought before her, be said to be vigilant to her duties amidst the scary revelation about the seven judges who had incredulously incriminating and suspicious materials in their possession?
By the body language of the National Judicial Council, I could have only read hallmarks of nonchalance and indolence of which equity will not aid if her nonchalance is taken advantaged of by another body in the event they cry foul.
When I used to watch Crime Watch show on television years back, how persons who by law not yet deemed criminals are treated as one and made public show of, handcuffed and bundled like the packing together scattered naira notes into one tranche, even at the slight of recent possession of stolen asset (s) he had not knowledge of, he is still embarrassingly made the public glare.
The end point of this always often is to deter the intending public from venturing into same crime which littlely serve the purpose to other intending culprits. I probably think because they the accused occupy not certain sensitive positions, they are not known and so the urge to venture into crime is always on the surge.
Left for me, I did not see any act wrong in the DSS assisted operation in searching the judges’ residence. It was only done as I supposed to enable expose to the public things we never believed went on in the Judiciary. Why should the judges, the National Judicial Council and even the Nigerian Bar Association complain when they were not made to sit on the floor like the way they do for other ordinary Nigerians on Crime Watch who will be made to sit on bare ground.
On a frankly truthful note, intending criminals tend to turn a new leaf easily by the extent to which they know bigwigs are penalized and not the extent men and women of low status are nailed.
The DSS in a bid to reawaken their rights could not have allowed a chasm, could not have permitted stones left unturned in the fight against corruption duely assisted the NJC. It probably may have sprung from the fact that the Judiciary being a public arm of the government and at all times stands accountable to the law, and the law been the creation of the people as Justice Lord Marshal puts it, judges could not have been left out in the accountability project to the people, took it upon themselves to do that which the National Judicial Council ordinarily ought to have done or as they claimed to have done, at the pace of a snail.
The reasons are far ill conceived for the National Judicial Council’s cry on the mode and manner the DSS sacked the judges apartment when in actual fact they only assisted them and awokened them in vigilance to their rights. The National Judicial Council’s perceived laxity in their duties gave way to the DSS to play fast on the prominent judges.
Their cry before equity if any thing is to be considered is the unanswered whys and wherefores for maintaining a very slow mute motion even in the throes of judicial corruption. The NJC should not continue the whistle blowing in the dark as a way of whipping sentiments when another body saddled with the responsibility to prevent corruption as provided in the National Security Agencies Act executes same function.
Pursuant to Section 3 (a) of the National Security Agencies Act, the DSS is charged amongst others the responsibility for “the prevention and detection within Nigeria any crime against the internal security of Nigeria.”
One cannot come to deny that a perceived threat to the internal security of Nigeria will saddle the DSS the power to prevent such threat in itself capable of becoming a crime. What then will one say of a judge who was alleged to have two million dollars in his house.
The DSS only perceived that such amount in the custody of a judge posed a threat to the internal security of Nigeria if left in his possesion as injustice will be permeated more often than not, hence the need to go after said perceived threat.
As one can safely deduce from the aforementioned provision and with the elementary knowledge of the law of crime, to prevent a crime is to prevent both an actual crime or prevent a perceived act likely to translate to an actual crime. It cannot then be gainsaid that the DSS purported invasion of the judges residence was prompted by the perceived act of some judges who allegedly stashed threatening amount of money in their homes that if left unchecked, would have translated to an actual crime of corruption under the Nigerian Criminal Code as an individual judge’s salary for a cumulative fifteen (15) years cannot make up the said two million dollars.
Also in the above stated provision, it cannot be found in the spirit of the law albeit stated in factual Rules, that they obtain warrant before carrying out their constitutional or statutory duties.
The truth remains till date that had the DSS not struck, many a Nigerian will never get to know things buried in cloak-and-dagger in the Judiciary. As a matter of fact, the Judiciary said to be the last hope of the common man will only remain a recurring verbal decimal fraction of what is actually as against what ought to be and judges will still continue in gross acts depraving of the legal profession.
Had the DSS not struck, everything done in the Judiciary will be deemed as normal by the average Nigerian citizen. Nigerians would have still had the mind set that the Judiciary is the least corrupt arm of government and things that usually go on in the dark in the executive and legislative arm are usually atypical findings in the Judiciary.
Had they not struck, we would not have come to accept the reality that judges themselves can stoop so low to treat the fate of aspirants for justice to soothe another who obviously the law has made mincemeat of as a result of his criminal action. It would have being the normal past history that a judge subvert justice and little or nothing is done to him or her. It would have been the same old story like what is obtained in the executive and legislature. Day in day out, we would have kept living in a deluded state.
Had it not happened, everything would have been normal for the Judiciary and the NJC will sustain the dismissal of 4 judges at least every decade so it will not be said they are not working. We probably may still see more cases of the Bode George’s outcome that was in itself replete with oddities.
The DSS eventual strike is a beckoning signal that the days are over for judicial quiescence. They struck in itself goes to show the extent to which our misconstrued thoughts about the Judiciary was. Our knowledge about the past history of the judiciary was only submerged in silence, thinking it would have remained that way and only few persons will get to be aware of any ill happenings in the judiciary. The misconceived past history of the Judiciary is now history passed away with a completely different mind set of those who are the true knights of the temple of justice. The DSS strike came to erase if not completely a midget of our misconception about the Judiciary’s history passed.
It probably may not be the executive act to taunt the Judiciary but, it was necessary that a thing like that had happened to set a precedence that the fight against corruption should not be taken lightly and likely with the members of the Judiciary.
The strike itself could not but subject the aggrieved NJC to an emergency meeting of which resolutions reached also boiled down to the said fight against corruption albeit a more reassuring aggressive dimension. Why did the NJC not hold very pressing emergency meeting regarding the stark rot in the Judiciary and make such public prior to the unanticipated DSS actionif indeed they had the good mind to tackle corruption in the Judiciary?
The purported invasion of the DSS on the judges apartments has put the Judiciary on her toes as it has always been my contention that the fight against corruption if it must start must be from the temple that decides who justice be meted on, of which a corrupt temple will be the beginning of a failed anti-corruption fight unless the fight starts from them.
God Bless Nigeria!
AVST. DAVIDSON .I. OBABUEKI