That the law is seen as a two-edged sword and justice system represented by a blind woman speaks volume. Unfortunately many of us human are not gifted with wisdom and hindsight. This gross assumption and lack of attention to details when it comes to law make us fight needless battles. We cry when there is no wolf as our hopes are dashed.
Within the laws and by extensions the constitution, are technicalities. Common man often thinks the laws is straight like the ‘stick’of a gun. This error is not just a puzzle faced by common men but we have also seen the high and the mighty, especially those we think should be in know, had fallen victim to this twisted opinion about law.
As an individual, I had taken time to examine the present legal imbroglio around the suspension of the chief justice of the federation- Walter Onnoghen. Prior to this, my position has always been to think deeply about some of the issues we take for granted.
The society is in the habit of given us a twisted, half-truth opinion which we the populace take wholeheartedly as truth. For instance in Nigeria, we often say ‘Police is your friend’. In actual fact, such position is relative. Like in law or in our constitution, what is the truth as well as morality is relative. They are not as straightforward as we assume them to be.
Another statement, which after a long thought, I have come to the conclusion may not be completely true is ‘the law is the hope of the common man’. Based on experience and several judicial outcomes, this seems to me to be half- truth as well.
During the early days of this administration’s fight against corruption, plea bargaining became a household buzz. Many who had looted our treasury were apprehended and given opportunity to return insignificant percentage of what they had stolen and let go. We all hailed that decision. Half a loaf of bread is better than none. We do know if we are to follow true justice and morality, when a thief is caught he should return all.
While the plea bargaining was going on, we had a case of one who ‘stole’ a governor’s mobile phone given years in jail with hard labour. In this country also, we have heard of a known celebrity who allegedly abuse a lady sexually who was let off the hook of the law while some insignificant members of the society had been given severe punishments for the same offence.
A petty thief, who specialized in stealing handbags in a popular bus stop in Lagos had been caught and given years in jails after prosecution. When those who really stole in billions still walk free on the street. Legal technicalities are employed by seasoned lawyers in many of these high profile cases. At the end justice is often denied to those who are due.
Within the law, morality and truth do not often take precedence. Though this is what is expected. The outcome of many judgments are based on how lawyers: counsel or defence, can argued their cases before the judge. The judge is most cases refuse to be emotionally involved, even when the truth is glaring. Many judges based their final decisions on the valid arguments, technicalities permitted within the same legal system. This raises a lot of grave concerns but that is what it is.
Many times, we demand for morality and justice, unfortunately the justice system is blind to what we the ordinary people in the society will regard as common sense. My position about law, I wish there is a better option, is that the outcome of many cases in our law court is hinged on the lawyers’ profess in marshalling his case and the judge. Unfortunately in many instances, morality and truth had been murdered in broad day light.
Given the above, is the law or constitution still relevant? Can we do away with the legal system? I am afraid NO. Can we take a keen look at the technicalities with the law and make necessary changes? There is a possibility. The problem here again, who are the people who will make this possible? It is only the enlightened and powerful people amongst us. Many of these people enjoy the privileges offered by these technicalities and may not support any meaningful changes we all desired.
What is the essence of this piece, I have come to the conclusion, our legal system and elsewhere may continue to impede our fight against corruption and what we considered as fairness and justice. Only when we have many people with milk of human kindness running in their veins occupying high places of authority that we can make any meaningful headway. For now, we need a crusade to engage honest men and women to be in the right place.